Pro Tools
®
ALL-IN-ONE DESK REFERENCE
FOR
DUMmIES
‰
2ND
by Jeff Strong
EDITION
Pro Tools® All-in-One Desk Reference For Dummies®
Published by
Wiley Publishing, Inc.
111 River Street
Hoboken, NJ 07030-5774
www.wiley.com
Copyright © 2008 by Wiley Publishing, Inc., Indianapolis, Indiana
Published by Wiley Publishing, Inc., Indianapolis, Indiana
Published simultaneously in Canada
No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or
by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, scanning or otherwise, except as permitted
under Sections 107 or 108 of the 1976 United States Copyright Act, without either the prior written
permission of the Publisher, or authorization through payment of the appropriate per-copy fee to the
Copyright Clearance Center, 222 Rosewood Drive, Danvers, MA 01923, (978) 750-8400, fax (978) 646-8600.
Requests to the Publisher for permission should be addressed to the Legal Department, Wiley Publishing,
Inc., 10475 Crosspoint Blvd., Indianapolis, IN 46256, (317) 572-3447, fax (317) 572-4355, or online at http://
www.wiley.com/go/permissions.
Trademarks: Wiley, the Wiley Publishing logo, For Dummies, the Dummies Man logo, A Reference for the
Rest of Us!, The Dummies Way, Dummies Daily, The Fun and Easy Way, Dummies.com, and related trade
dress are trademarks or registered trademarks of John Wiley & Sons, Inc. and/or its affiliates in the United
States and other countries, and may not be used without written permission. Pro Tools is a registered trademark of Avid Technology, Inc. or its subsidiaries. All other trademarks are the property of their respective
owners. Wiley Publishing, Inc., is not associated with any product or vendor mentioned in this book.
LIMIT OF LIABILITY/DISCLAIMER OF WARRANTY: THE PUBLISHER AND THE AUTHOR MAKE NO REPRESENTATIONS
OR WARRANTIES WITH RESPECT TO THE ACCURACY OR COMPLETENESS OF THE CONTENTS OF THIS WORK AND
SPECIFICALLY DISCLAIM ALL WARRANTIES, INCLUDING WITHOUT LIMITATION WARRANTIES OF FITNESS FOR A
PARTICULAR PURPOSE. NO WARRANTY MAY BE CREATED OR EXTENDED BY SALES OR PROMOTIONAL MATERIALS.
THE ADVICE AND STRATEGIES CONTAINED HEREIN MAY NOT BE SUITABLE FOR EVERY SITUATION. THIS WORK IS
SOLD WITH THE UNDERSTANDING THAT THE PUBLISHER IS NOT ENGAGED IN RENDERING LEGAL, ACCOUNTING,
OR OTHER PROFESSIONAL SERVICES. IF PROFESSIONAL ASSISTANCE IS REQUIRED, THE SERVICES OF A COMPETENT PROFESSIONAL PERSON SHOULD BE SOUGHT. NEITHER THE PUBLISHER NOR THE AUTHOR SHALL BE LIABLE
FOR DAMAGES ARISING HEREFROM. THE FACT THAT AN ORGANIZATION OR WEBSITE IS REFERRED TO IN THIS
WORK AS A CITATION AND/OR A POTENTIAL SOURCE OF FURTHER INFORMATION DOES NOT MEAN THAT THE
AUTHOR OR THE PUBLISHER ENDORSES THE INFORMATION THE ORGANIZATION OR WEBSITE MAY PROVIDE OR
RECOMMENDATIONS IT MAY MAKE. FURTHER, READERS SHOULD BE AWARE THAT INTERNET WEBSITES LISTED IN
THIS WORK MAY HAVE CHANGED OR DISAPPEARED BETWEEN WHEN THIS WORK WAS WRITTEN AND WHEN IT
IS READ. FULFILLMENT OF EACH COUPON OFFER IS THE SOLE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE OFFEROR.
For general information on our other products and services, please contact our Customer Care
Department within the U.S. at 800-762-2974, outside the U.S. at 317-572-3993, or fax 317-572-4002.
For technical support, please visit www.wiley.com/techsupport.
Wiley also publishes its books in a variety of electronic formats. Some content that appears in print may
not be available in electronic books.
Library of Congress Control Number: 2008921684
ISBN: 978-0-470-23947-6
Manufactured in the United States of America
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
Pro Tools
®
ALL-IN-ONE DESK REFERENCE
FOR
DUMmIES
‰
2ND
by Jeff Strong
EDITION
Pro Tools® All-in-One Desk Reference For Dummies®
Published by
Wiley Publishing, Inc.
111 River Street
Hoboken, NJ 07030-5774
www.wiley.com
Copyright © 2008 by Wiley Publishing, Inc., Indianapolis, Indiana
Published by Wiley Publishing, Inc., Indianapolis, Indiana
Published simultaneously in Canada
No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or
by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, scanning or otherwise, except as permitted
under Sections 107 or 108 of the 1976 United States Copyright Act, without either the prior written
permission of the Publisher, or authorization through payment of the appropriate per-copy fee to the
Copyright Clearance Center, 222 Rosewood Drive, Danvers, MA 01923, (978) 750-8400, fax (978) 646-8600.
Requests to the Publisher for permission should be addressed to the Legal Department, Wiley Publishing,
Inc., 10475 Crosspoint Blvd., Indianapolis, IN 46256, (317) 572-3447, fax (317) 572-4355, or online at http://
www.wiley.com/go/permissions.
Trademarks: Wiley, the Wiley Publishing logo, For Dummies, the Dummies Man logo, A Reference for the
Rest of Us!, The Dummies Way, Dummies Daily, The Fun and Easy Way, Dummies.com, and related trade
dress are trademarks or registered trademarks of John Wiley & Sons, Inc. and/or its affiliates in the United
States and other countries, and may not be used without written permission. Pro Tools is a registered trademark of Avid Technology, Inc. or its subsidiaries. All other trademarks are the property of their respective
owners. Wiley Publishing, Inc., is not associated with any product or vendor mentioned in this book.
LIMIT OF LIABILITY/DISCLAIMER OF WARRANTY: THE PUBLISHER AND THE AUTHOR MAKE NO REPRESENTATIONS
OR WARRANTIES WITH RESPECT TO THE ACCURACY OR COMPLETENESS OF THE CONTENTS OF THIS WORK AND
SPECIFICALLY DISCLAIM ALL WARRANTIES, INCLUDING WITHOUT LIMITATION WARRANTIES OF FITNESS FOR A
PARTICULAR PURPOSE. NO WARRANTY MAY BE CREATED OR EXTENDED BY SALES OR PROMOTIONAL MATERIALS.
THE ADVICE AND STRATEGIES CONTAINED HEREIN MAY NOT BE SUITABLE FOR EVERY SITUATION. THIS WORK IS
SOLD WITH THE UNDERSTANDING THAT THE PUBLISHER IS NOT ENGAGED IN RENDERING LEGAL, ACCOUNTING,
OR OTHER PROFESSIONAL SERVICES. IF PROFESSIONAL ASSISTANCE IS REQUIRED, THE SERVICES OF A COMPETENT PROFESSIONAL PERSON SHOULD BE SOUGHT. NEITHER THE PUBLISHER NOR THE AUTHOR SHALL BE LIABLE
FOR DAMAGES ARISING HEREFROM. THE FACT THAT AN ORGANIZATION OR WEBSITE IS REFERRED TO IN THIS
WORK AS A CITATION AND/OR A POTENTIAL SOURCE OF FURTHER INFORMATION DOES NOT MEAN THAT THE
AUTHOR OR THE PUBLISHER ENDORSES THE INFORMATION THE ORGANIZATION OR WEBSITE MAY PROVIDE OR
RECOMMENDATIONS IT MAY MAKE. FURTHER, READERS SHOULD BE AWARE THAT INTERNET WEBSITES LISTED IN
THIS WORK MAY HAVE CHANGED OR DISAPPEARED BETWEEN WHEN THIS WORK WAS WRITTEN AND WHEN IT
IS READ. FULFILLMENT OF EACH COUPON OFFER IS THE SOLE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE OFFEROR.
For general information on our other products and services, please contact our Customer Care
Department within the U.S. at 800-762-2974, outside the U.S. at 317-572-3993, or fax 317-572-4002.
For technical support, please visit www.wiley.com/techsupport.
Wiley also publishes its books in a variety of electronic formats. Some content that appears in print may
not be available in electronic books.
Library of Congress Control Number: 2008921684
ISBN: 978-0-470-23947-6
Manufactured in the United States of America
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
About the Author
Jeff Strong, the author of Home Recording For Musicians For Dummies, is
President of the REI Institute, which is a MusicMedicine research organization
and therapy provider. Jeff graduated from the Percussion Institute of Technology
at the Musician’s Institute in Los Angeles in 1983, and has worked in or owned a
recording studio since 1985. Every week, he records dozens of custom CDs with
Pro Tools for his clients. He has also released 12 commercially available therapeutic CDs, 4 of which can be purchased at www.reiinstitute.com. An eightCD set focusing on shifting the brain is also available beginning Fall 2008 through
Sounds True (www.soundstrue.com). Pro Tools All-in-One Desk Reference
For Dummies, 2nd Edition is his ninth book.
Dedication
I am especially grateful for the love and support of my wife Beth and my
daughter Tovah, who never cease to amaze me with their capacity to endure
non-stop recording talk.
Author’s Acknowledgments
This book wouldn’t have happened without the inspiration and vision of
Executive Editor Steve Hayes. This is my fourth book with Steve; this one was
just as much fun to do as the others. A hearty thanks to my agent Carol Susan
Roth for making sure I get what’s coming to me.
Books, by nature, are a team effort and this book is the result of an extremely
talented and dedicated team of professionals: Project Editor Jean Nelson, who
kept this book on track with her attention to detail and exceptional editorial
skills; Copy Editor Teresa Artman, who cleaned up my writing and helped me
look like I actually know how to write; and Technical Editor Erik Scull, who
offered many excellent insights and ideas to improve this book. I’m indebted
to you all.
Publisher’s Acknowledgments
We’re proud of this book; please send us your comments through our online registration form
located at www.dummies.com/register/.
Some of the people who helped bring this book to market include the following:
Acquisitions and Editorial
Composition Services
Project Editor: Jean Nelson
Project Coordinator: Kristie Rees
(Previous Edition: Paul Levesque)
Layout and Graphics: Claudia Bell,
Reuben W. Davis, Joyce Haughey,
Melissa K. Jester, Christine Williams
Executive Editor: Steve Hayes
Senior Copy Editor: Teresa Artman
Technical Editor: Erik Scull
Proofreaders: John Greenough, Caitie Kelly,
Susan Moritz, Toni Settle
Editorial Manager: Kevin Kirschner
Indexer: Sharon Shock
Editorial Assistant: Amanda Foxworth
Sr. Editorial Assistant: Cherie Case
Cartoons: Rich Tennant
(www.the5thwave.com)
Publishing and Editorial for Technology Dummies
Richard Swadley, Vice President and Executive Group Publisher
Andy Cummings, Vice President and Publisher
Mary Bednarek, Executive Acquisitions Director
Mary C. Corder, Editorial Director
Publishing for Consumer Dummies
Diane Graves Steele, Vice President and Publisher
Joyce Pepple, Acquisitions Director
Composition Services
Gerry Fahey, Vice President of Production Services
Debbie Stailey, Director of Composition Services
Contents at a Glance
Introduction .................................................................1
Book I: Home Recording Basics .....................................7
Chapter 1: Discovering What You Need ..........................................................................9
Chapter 2: Getting Connected: Setting Up Your Studio ...............................................31
Chapter 3: Meeting the Mixing Board ............................................................................53
Chapter 4: MIDI and Electronic Instruments.................................................................71
Chapter 5: Understanding Microphones .......................................................................87
Book II: Getting Started Using Pro Tools.....................109
Chapter 1: Configuring Your Computer .......................................................................111
Chapter 2: Setting Up Your Hardware ..........................................................................131
Chapter 3: Examining Software Basics ........................................................................159
Chapter 4: Understanding the Pro Tools Windows....................................................177
Chapter 5: Importing and Exporting Files ...................................................................217
Book III: Recording Audio .........................................239
Chapter 1: Taking Care of Tracks .................................................................................241
Chapter 2: Miking: Getting a Great Source Sound ......................................................259
Chapter 3: Preparing to Record....................................................................................289
Chapter 4: Recording Audio..........................................................................................311
Book IV: Editing Audio..............................................335
Chapter 1: Audio Editing Basics ...................................................................................337
Chapter 2: Selecting Material to Edit ...........................................................................359
Chapter 3: Getting into Editing .....................................................................................385
Chapter 4: Adding to Your Editing Palette ..................................................................411
Book V: Managing MIDI............................................435
Chapter 1: Preparing to Record MIDI...........................................................................437
Chapter 2: Recording MIDI ............................................................................................453
Chapter 3: Editing MIDI Data.........................................................................................469
Chapter 4: Performing MIDI Operations ......................................................................497
Book VI: Mixing in Pro Tools ......................................521
Chapter 1: Mixing Basics ...............................................................................................523
Chapter 2: Setting Up Your Mix ....................................................................................539
Chapter 3: Using Equalization.......................................................................................565
Chapter 4: Digging into Dynamics Processors............................................................577
Chapter 5: Singling Out Signal Processors ..................................................................597
Chapter 6: Automating Your Mix ..................................................................................607
Chapter 7: Making Your Mix..........................................................................................625
Book VII: Mastering with Pro Tools ............................633
Chapter 1: Mastering Basics .........................................................................................635
Chapter 2: Mastering Your Music .................................................................................641
Book VIII: Getting Your Music to the Masses ..............655
Chapter 1: Putting Your Music on CD ..........................................................................657
Chapter 2: Getting Your Music on the Internet...........................................................669
Index .......................................................................687
Table of Contents
Introduction..................................................................1
About This Book...............................................................................................1
Not-So-Foolish Assumptions...........................................................................2
Conventions Used in This Book .....................................................................2
How This Book Is Organized...........................................................................3
Book I: Home Recording Basics ............................................................3
Book II: Getting Started Using Pro Tools .............................................3
Book III: Recording Audio......................................................................4
Book IV: Editing Audio ...........................................................................4
Book V: Managing MIDI ..........................................................................4
Book VI: Mixing in Pro Tools .................................................................5
Book VII: Mastering with Pro Tools......................................................5
Book VIII: Getting Your Music to the Masses ......................................5
Icons Used in This Book..................................................................................6
Where to Go from Here....................................................................................6
Book I: Home Recording Basics ......................................7
Chapter 1: Discovering What You Need . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .9
Eyeing the Big Picture......................................................................................9
Piping the Music into Pro Tools ...................................................................10
Interpreting input devices...................................................................10
Deciphering direct boxes ....................................................................12
Perusing the preamp............................................................................13
Meeting the Mixer ..........................................................................................14
Managing the MIDI Controller ......................................................................15
Recognizing the Recorder .............................................................................16
Digital recorders ...................................................................................17
The computer .......................................................................................18
Signing On to Signal Processors...................................................................22
Equalizers (EQ).....................................................................................22
Dynamic processors ............................................................................24
Effects processors ................................................................................25
Making Sense of Monitors .............................................................................27
Headphones ..........................................................................................27
Speakers ................................................................................................28
Mastering Media.............................................................................................29
CD ...........................................................................................................30
Computer files ......................................................................................30
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Pro Tools All-in-One Desk Reference For Dummies, 2nd Edition
Chapter 2: Getting Connected: Setting Up Your Studio . . . . . . . . . . . . .31
Making Connections ......................................................................................31
Analog ....................................................................................................32
Digital .....................................................................................................36
Working Efficiently in Your Studio ...............................................................39
Setting up your studio for comfort and efficiency ...........................39
Taming heat and dust ..........................................................................39
Monitoring your monitors...................................................................40
Optimizing Your Studio .................................................................................41
Sound isolation .....................................................................................42
Sound control........................................................................................43
Chapter 3: Meeting the Mixing Board . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .53
Meeting the Many Mixer Types ....................................................................53
Analog mixer .........................................................................................54
Digital mixer ..........................................................................................55
The computer control surface............................................................56
Understanding Mixer Basics.........................................................................57
Channel strip.........................................................................................57
Input jack ...............................................................................................58
Insert jack ..............................................................................................58
Trim knob ..............................................................................................60
Equalization ..........................................................................................60
Channel Auxiliary (Aux) Send knobs .................................................60
Pre/Post switch.....................................................................................62
Pan knob................................................................................................62
Mute switch...........................................................................................63
Solo switch ............................................................................................63
Assign switches ....................................................................................63
Faders ....................................................................................................63
Routing/Busing Signals..................................................................................63
Master fader ..........................................................................................64
Sub (submix) faders.............................................................................64
Solo/Mute switches ..............................................................................66
Control Room level knob.....................................................................66
Phones knob .........................................................................................66
Auxiliary (Aux) Send knobs ................................................................66
Auxiliary (Aux) Return knobs .............................................................66
Aux Assign.............................................................................................66
Master Level meters.............................................................................67
Deciphering Output Jacks.............................................................................67
Master Out jack ....................................................................................67
Phones jack ...........................................................................................67
Monitors jack ........................................................................................67
Direct Out jacks ....................................................................................67
Aux Return jacks...................................................................................69
Making Life Easier with a Patch Bay ............................................................69
Table of Contents
xi
Chapter 4: MIDI and Electronic Instruments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .71
Meeting MIDI...................................................................................................72
Perusing MIDI ports .............................................................................72
Understanding MIDI channels.............................................................74
Appreciating MIDI messages...............................................................75
Managing modes...................................................................................76
General MIDI..........................................................................................77
Getting Started with MIDI..............................................................................78
Sound generators .................................................................................79
Samplers ................................................................................................82
Chapter 5: Understanding Microphones . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .87
Meeting the Many Microphone Types.........................................................87
Construction types...............................................................................87
Polarity patterns...................................................................................92
Buying the Right Microphone for You .........................................................96
How many, what kind...........................................................................97
Detailing applications ..........................................................................98
Partnering with preamps...................................................................100
Considering compressors .................................................................102
Preamp, compressor, and equalizer combos..................................103
Analyzing some microphone accessories .......................................103
Caring for Your Microphones .....................................................................104
Daily care for your mics ....................................................................105
Storing your mics ...............................................................................106
Book II: Getting Started Using Pro Tools .....................109
Chapter 1: Configuring Your Computer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .111
Using Pro Tools on a Mac............................................................................111
Understanding Mac system requirements ......................................111
Setting system settings......................................................................114
Installing the program........................................................................116
Using Pro Tools on a PC ..............................................................................117
Understanding PC system requirements.........................................117
Preparing to install Pro Tools software ...........................................120
Connecting your hardware................................................................126
Installing the program........................................................................127
Keeping Bugs at Bay: Good Habits to Get Into .........................................128
Back up your data often ....................................................................128
Back up your system drive ...............................................................129
Chapter 2: Setting Up Your Hardware . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .131
Making Sense of the Mbox 2 Series............................................................133
Mbox 2 Micro ......................................................................................133
Mbox 2 Mini.........................................................................................135
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Pro Tools All-in-One Desk Reference For Dummies, 2nd Edition
Mbox 2 .................................................................................................138
Mbox 2 Pro ..........................................................................................141
Digging Into the Digi 003 Interfaces ...........................................................146
Discovering the Digi 003 input and outputs....................................147
Examining the 003 control surface features....................................151
M-Audio Interfaces .......................................................................................155
Chapter 3: Examining Software Basics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .159
Keeping Software Straight...........................................................................159
Looking at Pro Tools versions ..........................................................159
Differences between Macs and PCs .................................................160
Getting Set Up ...............................................................................................160
Setting hardware settings..................................................................161
Playing with the Playback Engine settings......................................163
The ins and outs of inputs and outputs ..........................................165
Dealing with Sessions ..................................................................................167
Creating a new session ......................................................................167
Opening sessions................................................................................169
Saving sessions...................................................................................170
Using and creating a session template ............................................172
Getting to Know Audio and MIDI Files.......................................................174
Understanding audio files .................................................................174
Meeting MIDI files ...............................................................................174
Finding your session files..................................................................175
Chapter 4: Understanding the Pro Tools Windows . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .177
Tackling the Transport Window.................................................................177
Adjusting the Transport window .....................................................177
Basic controls .....................................................................................178
Counters ..............................................................................................180
Expanded.............................................................................................181
MIDI controls.......................................................................................182
Examining the Edit Window........................................................................184
Taking a look at track controls .........................................................185
Examining edit modes........................................................................188
Zeroing in on Zoom controls.............................................................189
Elucidating edit tools .........................................................................189
Looking at counter displays..............................................................191
Evaluating the Event Edit area..........................................................191
The Black Bar hodgepodge ...............................................................192
Looking at lists....................................................................................195
Rulers rule! ..........................................................................................196
Managing the Mix Window..........................................................................199
Checking out channel strips .............................................................200
Expanding the channel strips view ..................................................206
Looking at lists: The Mix Window variant.......................................208
Working with Window Configurations.......................................................210
Creating window configurations ......................................................210
Recalling window configurations .....................................................212
Table of Contents
xiii
Managing window configurations ....................................................212
Editing window configurations.........................................................215
Updating window configurations .....................................................215
Deleting window configurations.......................................................215
Chapter 5: Importing and Exporting Files . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .217
Importing into a Session .............................................................................217
Importing audio files ..........................................................................217
Importing MIDI files............................................................................222
Importing tracks .................................................................................225
Exporting from a Session ............................................................................229
Exporting audio ..................................................................................229
Exporting MIDI ....................................................................................233
Managing Files ..............................................................................................234
Compacting files .................................................................................235
Deleting unwanted files .....................................................................236
Backing up data ..................................................................................237
Book III: Recording Audio ..........................................239
Chapter 1: Taking Care of Tracks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .241
Understanding Tracks in Pro Tools ...........................................................241
Track types..........................................................................................241
Track formats......................................................................................242
Setting Up Tracks .........................................................................................242
Creating new tracks............................................................................242
Duplicating tracks ..............................................................................243
Naming tracks .....................................................................................243
Assigning inputs and outputs ...........................................................244
Altering Your View of Tracks ......................................................................245
Showing and hiding tracks ................................................................245
Assigning track color .........................................................................247
Changing track size ............................................................................248
Moving tracks around ........................................................................249
Deleting tracks ....................................................................................249
Grouping Tracks ...........................................................................................250
Keeping track of grouped track parameters ...................................250
Creating groups ..................................................................................251
Enabling groups ..................................................................................252
Editing groups.....................................................................................252
Linking edit and mix groups..............................................................254
Soloing and Muting ......................................................................................255
Managing Track Voices................................................................................255
Assigning voices .................................................................................256
Setting voice priority .........................................................................256
Freeing up a voice from a track ........................................................257
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Pro Tools All-in-One Desk Reference For Dummies, 2nd Edition
Chapter 2: Miking: Getting a Great Source Sound . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .259
Tracing Typical Microphone Techniques .................................................259
Spot miking..........................................................................................260
Distant miking .....................................................................................261
Ambient miking...................................................................................261
Stereo miking ......................................................................................262
Mic combinations...............................................................................265
Taming Transients........................................................................................266
Setting your levels properly..............................................................267
Placing mics properly ........................................................................267
Compressing carefully .......................................................................268
Setting Up Your Mics: Some Suggestions ..................................................270
Vocals...................................................................................................270
Backup vocals .....................................................................................273
Electric guitar .....................................................................................275
Electric bass........................................................................................277
Acoustic guitars and such.................................................................278
Drum set ..............................................................................................280
Hand drums.........................................................................................287
Percussion ...........................................................................................287
Chapter 3: Preparing to Record . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .289
Recognizing Record Modes.........................................................................289
Non-Destructive Record mode .........................................................290
Destructive Record mode..................................................................290
Loop Record mode .............................................................................290
QuickPunch Record mode.................................................................291
Dealing with Disk Allocation.......................................................................292
Allocating hard drive space ..............................................................292
Using multiple hard drives for audio ...............................................292
Enabling Recording ......................................................................................293
Record-enabling..................................................................................293
Using Latch Record Enable mode ....................................................295
Running Record Safe mode ...............................................................296
Setting Levels................................................................................................296
Setting a Record Range................................................................................298
Monitoring Your Tracks...............................................................................299
Setting up monitoring ........................................................................299
Choosing a monitor mode.................................................................299
Linking and unlinking Record and Playback faders .......................300
Adjusting monitoring latency ...........................................................301
Using low-latency monitoring ...........................................................302
Creating a Click Track..................................................................................303
Getting a click track the easy way....................................................304
Getting a click track the hard way....................................................304
Setting the tempo ...............................................................................306
Choosing the meter............................................................................307
Table of Contents
xv
Enabling a click track.........................................................................308
Setting up tempo and meter events .................................................308
Chapter 4: Recording Audio . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .311
Recording Tracks .........................................................................................311
Recording a single track ....................................................................311
Managing multiple tracks ..................................................................313
Using pre- and post-rolls....................................................................314
Playing Back Your Tracks............................................................................316
Playing recorded tracks.....................................................................316
Setting scrolling options....................................................................317
Listening to playback loops ..............................................................318
Using the Scrub feature .....................................................................319
Doing Additional Takes................................................................................320
Starting over from scratch ................................................................320
Punching in and out ...........................................................................321
Loop recording ...................................................................................324
Using QuickPunch ..............................................................................325
Overdubbing: Recording additional tracks .....................................325
Recording to playlists ........................................................................327
Auditioning takes................................................................................328
Getting Rid of Unwanted Takes ..................................................................332
Canceling your performance ............................................................332
Undoing your take ..............................................................................333
Clearing the file from the Audio Regions list ..................................333
Book IV: Editing Audio ..............................................335
Chapter 1: Audio Editing Basics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .337
Understanding Pro Tools Editing ...............................................................337
Nondestructive editing ......................................................................338
Editing during playback.....................................................................338
Getting to Know Region Types ...................................................................338
Viewing Regions ...........................................................................................339
Selecting the track view.....................................................................340
Adjusting the track height.................................................................341
Assigning region-name and time-location displays........................342
Zooming in and out ............................................................................343
Understanding Edit Modes .........................................................................347
Setting grid resolution .......................................................................349
Displaying grid lines...........................................................................349
Working (Okay, Playing) with Playlists......................................................350
Creating a new playlist.......................................................................350
Duplicating a playlist .........................................................................351
Deleting a playlist ...............................................................................351
Renaming playlists .............................................................................352
Choosing playlists ..............................................................................352
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Pro Tools All-in-One Desk Reference For Dummies, 2nd Edition
Using the Audio Regions List......................................................................352
Selecting regions.................................................................................353
Using the Audio Regions list drop-down menu ..............................354
Displaying region information ..........................................................355
Managing Undos...........................................................................................355
Setting levels of Undo ........................................................................356
Performing Undos ..............................................................................356
Knowing when you can no longer Undo..........................................357
Chapter 2: Selecting Material to Edit . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .359
Selecting Track Material..............................................................................359
Selecting part of a region...................................................................360
Selecting across multiple tracks.......................................................362
Selecting an entire region ..................................................................362
Selecting two regions and any space between them .....................362
Selecting an entire track ....................................................................363
Selecting all regions in all tracks ......................................................363
Selecting on the fly .............................................................................363
Selecting with the Selection Indicator fields...................................364
Making a selection with the Tab to Transients function ...............365
Making Changes to Your Selection.............................................................365
Changing a selection’s length ...........................................................366
Nudging selections .............................................................................366
Extending selection lengths ..............................................................368
Moving and extending selections between tracks .........................369
Managing Memory Locations .....................................................................370
Dealing with the New Memory Location dialog box ......................371
Creating memory locations...............................................................372
Getting to know the Memory Locations window ...........................376
Recalling memory locations..............................................................379
Editing memory locations .................................................................380
Playing Selected Material ............................................................................382
Playing your selection .......................................................................382
Using pre- and post-rolls....................................................................382
Auditioning start and end points .....................................................383
Looping your selection’s playback ..................................................384
Chapter 3: Getting into Editing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .385
Editing Regions.............................................................................................385
Creating regions..................................................................................386
Healing regions ...................................................................................388
Placing regions in tracks ...................................................................390
Using region synch points.................................................................392
Aligning regions ..................................................................................393
Trimming regions ...............................................................................395
Moving regions ...................................................................................399
Locking regions...................................................................................404
Table of Contents
xvii
Quantizing regions .............................................................................404
Muting/unmuting regions ..................................................................405
Splitting stereo tracks........................................................................406
Examining Edit Commands .........................................................................407
Using the Cut command ....................................................................407
Using the Copy command .................................................................408
Clearing selections .............................................................................408
Performing a paste .............................................................................409
Using the Duplicate command..........................................................409
Performing a repeat ...........................................................................410
Chapter 4: Adding to Your Editing Palette . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .411
Signing On to the Smart Tool......................................................................411
Using the Smart tool in Waveform view ..........................................412
Using the Smart tool in Automation view .......................................414
Perusing the Pencil Tool .............................................................................416
Creating a copy of the original file ...................................................416
Using the Pencil tool to redraw a waveform...................................417
Silencing Selections .....................................................................................418
Stripping silence .................................................................................418
Inserting silence .................................................................................420
Performing Fades and Crossfades .............................................................421
Dealing with the Fades dialog box ...................................................422
Creating crossfades............................................................................425
Fading in and out................................................................................428
Creating batch fades ..........................................................................430
Cleaning Up Your Session ...........................................................................431
Consolidating selections ...................................................................431
Removing unused regions .................................................................432
Compacting a file................................................................................433
Book V: Managing MIDI ............................................435
Chapter 1: Preparing to Record MIDI . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .437
Setting Up Your MIDI Devices .....................................................................437
Enabling MIDI devices in Mac OS X..................................................438
Enabling MIDI devices in Windows XP ............................................440
Running MIDI Thru .............................................................................441
Managing the MIDI Input filter ..........................................................442
Quantizing your inputs ......................................................................443
Offsetting MIDI tracks ........................................................................445
Getting Ready to Record .............................................................................446
Creating MIDI and instrument tracks...............................................447
Setting inputs, outputs, and MIDI channels ....................................447
Creating a click track .........................................................................449
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Pro Tools All-in-One Desk Reference For Dummies, 2nd Edition
Chapter 2: Recording MIDI . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .453
Recording MIDI Performances....................................................................453
Enabling recording for MIDI and instrument tracks ......................453
Setting the Wait for Note option .......................................................454
Monitoring MIDI inputs......................................................................455
Hearing instrument tracks ................................................................455
Recording MIDI and instrument tracks............................................456
Playing Back Your Tracks............................................................................456
Playing recorded tracks.....................................................................457
Setting scrolling options....................................................................457
Changing sounds ................................................................................458
Getting Rid of Unwanted Takes ..................................................................459
Canceling your performance ............................................................459
Undoing your take ..............................................................................459
Clearing the file from the Regions list..............................................460
Overdubbing MIDI Performances...............................................................460
Using MIDI Merge/Replace ................................................................461
Punching in and out ...........................................................................462
Punching MIDI on the fly ...................................................................465
Loop recording ...................................................................................466
Recording System-Exclusive Data ..............................................................467
Chapter 3: Editing MIDI Data . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .469
Working with MIDI and Instrument Tracks ...............................................469
Taking a look at track views..............................................................469
Selecting track material .....................................................................472
Recognizing regions ...........................................................................473
Setting MIDI patches on tracks.........................................................474
Dealing with Note Chasing ..........................................................................474
Editing MIDI in the Edit Window ................................................................475
Perusing the Pencil tools...................................................................475
Custom note duration........................................................................478
Adding MIDI events ............................................................................478
Deleting MIDI data ..............................................................................480
Changing MIDI events ........................................................................481
Editing program data .........................................................................484
Changing continuous controller data ..............................................485
Using the Smart tool ..........................................................................487
Exploring MIDI Events .................................................................................488
Exploring the MIDI Event List window.............................................488
Editing in the MIDI Event List ...........................................................492
Chapter 4: Performing MIDI Operations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .497
Getting Used to the MIDI Operations Window .........................................497
Performing MIDI Operations.......................................................................499
Grid/Groove Quantize ........................................................................500
Restore Performance .........................................................................504
Table of Contents
xix
Flatten Performance...........................................................................505
Change Velocity ..................................................................................506
Change Duration.................................................................................507
Transpose............................................................................................509
Select/Split Notes ...............................................................................510
Input Quantize ....................................................................................513
Step Input ............................................................................................513
Recognizing MIDI Real-Time Properties ....................................................515
Book VI: Mixing in Pro Tools.......................................521
Chapter 1: Mixing Basics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .523
Understanding Mixing .................................................................................524
Managing Levels as You Work ....................................................................524
Getting Started Mixing Your Song ..............................................................525
Mixing in Pro Tools ......................................................................................526
Using the 002 or 003 control surface ...............................................526
Using a MIDI controller ......................................................................527
Using a digital mixer ..........................................................................528
Using an analog mixer........................................................................528
Using the Stereo Field..................................................................................529
Left or right .........................................................................................529
Front or back.......................................................................................531
Adjusting Levels: Enhancing the Emotion of the Song............................532
Dynamics .............................................................................................533
The arrangement ................................................................................534
Tuning Your Ears ..........................................................................................534
Listening critically..............................................................................535
Choosing reference CDs ....................................................................536
Dealing with ear fatigue .....................................................................537
Making several versions ....................................................................537
Chapter 2: Setting Up Your Mix . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .539
Revisiting the Mix Window .........................................................................539
Getting to Know Signal Flow .......................................................................541
Rounding Out Your Routing........................................................................542
Using a Master fader ..........................................................................543
Adding auxiliary inputs .....................................................................544
Inserting inserts..................................................................................545
Setting up sends .................................................................................546
Accessing Output Windows ........................................................................550
Tackling Track Output windows.......................................................550
Setting up the Send Output window ................................................552
Playing with Plug-ins....................................................................................553
Real Time AudioSuite (RTAS)............................................................554
Using AudioSuite offline plug-ins......................................................557
Using AudioSuite plug-ins to process an audio region ..................560
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Pro Tools All-in-One Desk Reference For Dummies, 2nd Edition
Processing with External Effects................................................................560
Creating a hardware insert................................................................561
Connecting your external device .....................................................561
Routing your track .............................................................................563
Chapter 3: Using Equalization . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .565
Exploring Equalization ................................................................................565
Parametric...........................................................................................565
Low-shelf/high-shelf ...........................................................................566
Low-pass/high-pass............................................................................566
Dialing In EQ .................................................................................................567
Inserting an EQ plug-in in a track .....................................................567
Perusing Pro Tools EQ options.........................................................568
Equalizing Your Tracks................................................................................571
General EQ guidelines........................................................................572
Equalizing vocals................................................................................573
Equalizing guitar.................................................................................574
Equalizing bass ...................................................................................574
Equalizing drums................................................................................574
Equalizing percussion........................................................................576
Equalizing piano .................................................................................576
Chapter 4: Digging into Dynamics Processors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .577
Connecting Dynamics Processors .............................................................577
Introducing Compressors ...........................................................................578
Getting to know compressor parameters .......................................579
Getting started using compression ..................................................580
Using compression.............................................................................581
Looking into Limiters...................................................................................585
Understanding limiter settings .........................................................586
Setting limits with the BF76 limiter ..................................................587
Introducing Gates and Expanders..............................................................588
Getting to know gate parameters .....................................................588
Getting started using gates ...............................................................590
Getting started using an expander...................................................590
Detailing the De-Esser..................................................................................591
Setting Up Side Chains.................................................................................592
Setting up a side chain.......................................................................593
Using a side chain...............................................................................594
Chapter 5: Singling Out Signal Processors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .597
Routing Your Effects ....................................................................................598
Inserting effects ..................................................................................598
Sending signals to effects ..................................................................599
Rolling Out the Reverb ................................................................................600
Seeing reverb settings........................................................................600
Getting started using reverb .............................................................602
Table of Contents
xxi
Detailing Delay..............................................................................................603
Digging into delay settings ................................................................603
Getting started using delay ...............................................................604
Creating Chorus Effects...............................................................................605
Chapter 6: Automating Your Mix . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .607
Understanding Automation ........................................................................608
Audio tracks ........................................................................................608
Auxiliary input tracks ........................................................................608
Instrument tracks ...............................................................................608
Master fader tracks ............................................................................609
MIDI tracks ..........................................................................................609
Accessing Automation Modes ....................................................................609
Setting Automation Preferences.................................................................610
Enabling Automation ...................................................................................612
Suspending or enabling automation across all tracks...................612
Suspending automation for an individual track .............................613
Writing Automation......................................................................................614
Writing automation on a track ..........................................................614
Writing plug-in automation ...............................................................615
Writing send automation ...................................................................616
Viewing Automation.....................................................................................617
Drawing Automation....................................................................................618
Thinning Automation...................................................................................619
Automatically thinning data..............................................................619
Using the Thin command ..................................................................620
Editing Automation Data .............................................................................620
Using editing commands ...................................................................620
Editing with (surprise!) the edit tools .............................................623
Chapter 7: Making Your Mix . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .625
Submixing by Recording to Tracks ............................................................625
Mixing in-the-Box..........................................................................................627
Examining bounce options................................................................627
Performing the bounce ......................................................................630
Using an External Master Deck...................................................................630
Book VII: Mastering with Pro Tools .............................633
Chapter 1: Mastering Basics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .635
Demystifying Mastering...............................................................................636
Processing ...........................................................................................636
Sequencing ..........................................................................................637
Leveling................................................................................................637
Getting Ready to Master..............................................................................637
Paying a Pro, or Doing It Yourself ..............................................................638
Hiring a Professional Mastering Engineer.................................................639
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Pro Tools All-in-One Desk Reference For Dummies, 2nd Edition
Chapter 2: Mastering Your Music . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .641
Considering General Guidelines.................................................................641
Setting Up a Mastering Session ..................................................................642
Optimizing Dynamics...................................................................................644
Perfecting Tonal Balance.............................................................................646
Balancing Levels...........................................................................................648
Mastering Your Mix......................................................................................649
Making the most of your bits ............................................................650
Settling on a sample rate ...................................................................652
Sequencing Your Songs ...............................................................................653
Book VIII: Getting Your Music to the Masses ...............655
Chapter 1: Putting Your Music on CD . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .657
Getting into CD Burning ..............................................................................657
Purchasing CD-Rs .........................................................................................658
Recording Your Music to CD-R ...................................................................658
Dealing with diversity: Using different CD recorders ....................658
Burning for mass production............................................................660
Making Multiple Copies ...............................................................................662
Making copies yourself......................................................................662
Having someone else making copies ...............................................662
Promoting Your Music .................................................................................666
Chapter 2: Getting Your Music on the Internet . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .669
Understanding MP3 .....................................................................................670
Engine ..................................................................................................671
Bit rate .................................................................................................672
Mode ....................................................................................................673
Creating MP3 Files........................................................................................674
Choosing encoding software.............................................................674
Encoding your music .........................................................................675
Hosting Your Music......................................................................................677
Choosing a host site...........................................................................677
Setting up your own site....................................................................678
Providing Your Music Online ......................................................................681
Offering downloads ............................................................................682
Streaming audio..................................................................................682
Podcasting...........................................................................................683
Selling Your CDs ...........................................................................................685
Promoting Your Music .................................................................................685
Index........................................................................687
Introduction
C
hances are that after you became interested in recording some music,
you started hearing about a great software program — Pro Tools.
Maybe you read an article in which an artist said that she records with Pro
Tools, or you heard that such-and-such major recording studio uses Pro
Tools, or a friend told you that you need Pro Tools to record professionalquality music. Of the many great recording programs that are available, the
most popular — and one of the most powerful — is Pro Tools.
Pro Tools is an audio and Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI) recording program. Aside from recording audio and MIDI tracks, Pro Tools offers
some of the most powerful editing functions available, allowing you to tweak
your recordings to a high level of detail, clarity, and accuracy. You also get
excellent mixing abilities that help you mix your tracks together, EQ (equalize) them, and apply effects. Pro Tools is a comprehensive, all-in-one program you can use to control your music from start to finish.
About This Book
Pro Tools All-in-One Desk Reference For Dummies, 2nd Edition, not only introduces you to Pro Tools audio- and MIDI-recording software, but it also presents basic multitrack recording techniques. You find out about the many
Pro Tools features and functions and ways to use this program to create the
best possible recordings of your music.
This book also acquaints you with the basic audio-engineering skills needed
to make high-quality recordings. These skills can save you countless hours
of experimenting and give you more time to actually record your music.
(What a concept!)
In this book, you can
✦ Explore the Pro Tools windows and menus.
✦ Get a handle on all the useful functions within Pro Tools.
✦ Discover the ins and outs of using the various pieces of equipment in
your studio.
✦ Explore tried-and-true engineering techniques, such as microphone
choice and placement.
2
Not-So-Foolish Assumptions
✦ Find out about multitracking, mixing, and mastering.
✦ Get a chance to turn your music into complete songs and also discover
how to assemble and release an album.
With this book in hand, you’re on the fast track toward creating great-sounding
CDs. I cut to the chase, showing you skills you can use right away. I don’t
bother you with tons of technical jargon or useless facts.
Not-So-Foolish Assumptions
I have to admit that when I wrote this book, I made a couple of assumptions
about you, the reader. (And we all know what happens when you ASSume
anything.) But what the heck, I did it anyway. First, I assume that you’re
interested in recording your music (or someone else’s) with Pro Tools LE or
M-Powered software.
I also assume that you’re relatively new at the recording game and not yet a
seasoned professional. Of course, if you are an audio engineer — maybe
making the leap from analog to digital — this book offers a great brush-up on
many audio-engineering fundamentals and how they apply to the basic functions of Pro Tools. Oh, and I assume that you play a musical instrument or
sing — or are at least familiar with how instruments function and how sound
is produced, as well as understand some of the basics of music theory such
as tempo, meter, measures, and time signature. Finally, I assume that you
have some basic computer skills and know how to navigate menus, and work
a mouse and qwerty keyboard.
Other than these things, I don’t assume that you play a certain type of music
or that you ever intend to try to make it in the music business (or even that
you want to treat it as a business at all).
Conventions Used in This Book
I use certain conventions in this book to explain how to use the Pro Tools
program. For example, when you choose items from the main menu, I indicate this with arrows, as in “Choose Options➪Scrolling➪No Scrolling.” This
is shorthand for “Click the Options menu on the main menu, mouse over the
Scrolling option, and finally, click No Scrolling on the submenu.”
When you need to type a number or text, I indicate this with bold: For example, type Larry in the Name field. I make Web sites stand out a bit from the
rest of the text with a monospace font, such as www.dummies.com.
How This Book Is Organized
3
Because Pro Tools is available for both Macs and PCs, I include the commands or shortcut keys for both Mac and PC when they differ. For example,
press Ô+N (Mac) or Ctrl+N (PC).
Finally, the Windows key is the key on a PC’s keyboard (just outward from
each Alt key on the bottom key row) that is labeled only with a Windows
logo. This key can activate various Pro Tools features, but some older nonMicrosoft keyboards don’t have it. If you have a PC without a Microsoft-style
keyboard and it doesn’t have that pesky Windows key, don’t worry: I show
you other possible ways to activate the same features.
How This Book Is Organized
This desk reference is organized so that you can find the information you
want quickly and easily. Each mini-book contains chapters that cover a specific part of the recording process, and I briefly describe each mini-book in
the following sections.
Book I: Home Recording Basics
Book I introduces you to the basics of home recording. Chapter 1 introduces
you to the components of a home studio, explaining what everything is for.
Chapter 2 shows you how to make the connections — both analog and
digital — that you need when you’re trying to get sound from one place to
another.
Chapter 3 acquaints you with the mixing board, introducing you to its many
functions. Chapter 4 demystifies MIDI and gives you practical advice on how
to use this powerful communication tool to enhance your music. Chapter 5
puts you inside the world of microphones. You get a chance to understand
what kinds of mics are available, how they work, and which ones work best
for different situations.
Book II: Getting Started Using Pro Tools
Book II leads you into the Pro Tools world, examining the software and the
Digidesign hardware that you need in order to run it. Chapter 1 helps you
configure your computer to run Pro Tools and walks you through installing
the software on a Mac or a PC. Chapter 2 introduces you to the available
Digidesign hardware options, provides a basic overview of many of the
M-Powered compatible interfaces made by M-Audio, and shows you where
and how to plug in everything.
4
How This Book Is Organized
Chapter 3 helps you make your hardware and software work together and
introduces you to sessions, which are the standard building blocks of the
Pro Tools song-file system. In Chapter 4, you examine the three windows in
Pro Tools — Transport, Edit, and Mix — where you do most of your work.
Book II finishes off with Chapter 5, which gets you up to speed on file formats
and compatibility in Pro Tools. You discover ways to import and export
various file types.
Book III: Recording Audio
Book III gets into the meat of actually recording music. Chapter 1 explains
tracks in Pro Tools and discusses setting them up properly. Chapter 2
explores the fundamentals of getting a good source sound from microphones. You discover which mics work best for certain instruments and
how to place those microphones for the best sound.
Chapter 3 helps you get ready to record your first track. You discover how
to set levels, enable recording, and monitor your input signals so that you
can hear yourself. This book ends with Chapter 4, in which you begin the
process of recording single or multiple tracks in Pro Tools. Chapter 4 also
shows you how to listen critically (but practically) to those tracks when you
play them back.
Book IV: Editing Audio
Book IV is all about editing the audio tracks that you record. Chapter 1
explains the basics of editing audio in Pro Tools, from knowing which of the
four edit modes to use on your music to using the Audio Region list and
playlists to find the material to edit. Chapter 2 gets you comfortable with
selecting the material you want to edit. You find out how to change a selection and hear it before you edit it as well as how to use memory locators to
move quickly from one part of your session to another.
Chapter 3 gets to the heart of editing in Pro Tools. You get used to working
with regions (the standard on-screen representations of the music you
recorded in Pro Tools), using the editing commands, and using looped material to turn your raw tracks into usable pieces. This book ends with Chapter
4, in which you step up your editing prowess by exploring the Smart tool
and other advanced editing features.
Book V: Managing MIDI
Pro Tools offers full-featured MIDI functionality. In this mini-book, you get up
to speed on recording and editing MIDI data in your sessions. Chapter 1
helps you set up your MIDI devices. Chapter 2 gets you started capturing
How This Book Is Organized
5
MIDI data by showing you how to create MIDI and instrument tracks and
then record your performance. Chapter 3 presents the many Pro Tools editing functions that you can use to improve on your performance. Chapter 4
explores MIDI operations, those specialized commands that you can use to
transform your MIDI data in numerous ways.
Book VI: Mixing in Pro Tools
Book VI helps you take your tracks and blend them to create a finished song.
Chapter 1 introduces you to the process of multitrack mixing and helps you
prepare yourself to mix. Chapter 2 walks you through the process of setting
up your Pro Tools session for mixing. Chapter 3 details equalization (EQ)
and how you can use it to make all your instruments fit together well.
Chapter 4 examines four types of dynamics processors: compressors, limiters, gates, and expanders. These processors are essential to getting your
instruments to sit in the mix (sound good together), and this chapter helps
you use them properly. Chapter 5 guides you into the world of effect processors, such as reverb and delay. These effects are useful for adding life to
your productions, and this chapter shows you some ways to use them
effectively.
Chapter 6 covers one of the most useful things about recording with Pro
Tools: automating the elements of your mix, such as levels, panning, effects,
and so on. Chapter 7 finishes off Book VI by showing you how to mix to a
stereo file.
Book VII: Mastering with Pro Tools
Book VII focuses on the often-misunderstood process of mastering music.
Chapter 1 details what mastering is and helps you determine whether you
want to give it a try or let a professional do it for you. Chapter 2 provides a
step-by-step plan to help you in the event that you want to try your hand at
the mastering game.
Book VIII: Getting Your Music to the Masses
Book VIII helps you break out of your cocoon so that you can share your finished music with others. Chapter 1 covers how to choose CD-Rs and burn
your music to them. You also explore the best ways to make copies of your
CDs. If you’re looking to cultivate an audience in cyberspace, Chapter 2
helps you make your music available on the Internet. You get a chance
to format your music for Internet distribution and discover some ways to
promote your band.
6
Icons Used in This Book
Icons Used in This Book
Like all For Dummies authors, I use a few icons to help you along your way.
Certain techniques are very important and deserve remembering. This icon
gives you a gentle nudge to keep you on track.
Throughout the book, this icon shows up in instances where I include technical background on certain subjects. When you see this icon, brace yourself
for some dense information. Skip these if you want.
This icon highlights expert advice and ideas that can help you produce
better recordings.
This icon warns you ahead of time about instances when you could damage
your equipment, your ears, or your song.
Where to Go from Here
This book is set up so that you can read it cover to cover (and progressively
build on your knowledge). Or, be a free spirit and jump around to read only
those parts that interest you at the time. For instance, if you’re getting ready
to record a mix of your song and need some ideas on how to use equalization (EQ), go to Book VI, Chapter 3. If you’re new to recording with Pro Tools
and want to know how to set up a session, check out Book II, Chapter 3. And
if you’re completely new to the whole concept of home recording, start at
the beginning with Book I, Chapter 1.
You know, that’s not a bad idea. Starting at the beginning, I mean. That way,
you can get yourself up to speed on my way of thinking. Book I, Chapter 1
can also help you understand some of what I discuss in later chapters.
Wherever you start and wherever you want to go, you’re in for an
adventure . . .
Book I
Home Recording
Basics
Contents at a Glance
Chapter 1: Discovering What You Need ................................................................................9
Chapter 2: Getting Connected: Setting Up Your Studio ....................................................31
Chapter 3: Meeting the Mixing Board ................................................................................53
Chapter 4: MIDI and Electronic Instruments......................................................................71
Chapter 5: Understanding Microphones ............................................................................87
Chapter 1: Discovering
What You Need
In This Chapter
Understanding the components of a home studio
Discovering how each component contributes to the final sound
W
hether you use a PC- or Mac-based system for your Pro Tools studio,
your home recording system of choice employs much of the same
basic technology. In fact, your simple Pro Tools studio consists of the same
basic components as a typical million-dollar professional studio complex.
In this chapter, you discover the purpose of each component of a home
recording studio, and you also discover how each of these components
relates to the quality of sound you ultimately get from your studio. This
knowledge will help you to spend the right amount of money on the right
stuff. (See Book II, Chapter 1 for more on purchasing gear.)
Eyeing the Big Picture
In spite of what you might surmise from this chapter — with its long list of
equipment — you need only a few things to do multitrack recording with
Pro Tools. This simple list comprises instruments and microphones (called
input devices), a computer, a Digidesign audio interface or compatible MAudio audio interface, Pro Tools LE or M-Powered (for the M-Audio interfaces) software, and monitors (speakers, to you home stereo enthusiasts).
No matter how complicated your system becomes and how many pieces of
gear you end up accumulating, your studio will still consist of these basic
parts.
This chapter breaks down recording systems into the components they
have to have, but you might not need to purchase every component separately to get a great-sounding system. Many of these components come
bundled together. For example, your Digidesign hardware will include at
least two preamps or you may find speakers that come with a power amp
inside them.
10
Piping the Music into Pro Tools
Piping the Music into Pro Tools
As you begin to build your home studio, you’ll notice a long list of
components — okay, go ahead and call them “extras” — lurking within
the Top Five of input devices, computer, interface, software, and monitors.
In this section, I focus on these details of input devices so you can understand just what roles they play in your system.
As you get more and more involved in recording, you’ll find you can add
almost any of these components to your existing system to expand and
enhance what you can do.
Interpreting input devices
All your expensive recording gear is useless if you have nothing to plug in to
it. This is where the input device comes into play. An input device is, simply,
any instrument, microphone, or sound module that produces or delivers a
sound to the recorder.
Instruments
An electric guitar, a bass, a synthesizer, and drum machines are typical
instruments that plug in to the interface and represent most of the input
devices that you use in your studio. A synthesizer and drum machine can
plug directly into the Line In inputs of your interface whereas an electric
guitar or a bass needs a direct box (or its equivalent) to plug into first. (In
the case of a Digidesign interface, you need to use one of the inputs with a
preamp.)
A direct box is an intermediary device that allows you to plug your guitar
directly into a mixer without going through your amp first. (For more on
direct boxes, see the upcoming section, “Deciphering direct boxes.”) Check
out Figure 1-1 for an example of an instrument input device.
Figure 1-1:
An
instrument
input
device,
which you
can plug
right into
the mixer.
Piping the Music into Pro Tools
11
Microphone
Figure 1-2:
Use a
microphone
when your
instrument
can’t plug
into the
mixer
directly.
Sound modules
Sound modules are special kinds of synthesizers and/or drum machines.
What makes a sound module different from a regular synthesizer or drum
machine is that these contain no triggers or keys that you can play. Instead,
sound modules are controlled externally by another synthesizer’s keyboard
or by a Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI) controller (a specialized
Discovering What
You Need
You use a microphone (mic) to record the sound of a voice or an acoustic
instrument — sound sources that, last time I checked, couldn’t be plugged
directly into the interface. A microphone converts sound waves into electrical energy that can be understood by the interface. I detail the several types
of microphones in Book I, Chapter 5. Check out Figure 1-2 for a look at a
microphone.
Book I
Chapter 1
12
Piping the Music into Pro Tools
box designed to control MIDI instruments). Sound modules have MIDI ports
(MIDI jacks) to enable you to connect them to other equipment.
Often sound modules are rack mountable, meaning they have screw holes
and mounting ears so you can put them into an audio component rack. Some
controllers, however, are not rack mountable; Figure 1-3, for example, shows
a drum module that rests on a stand or tabletop.
KICK
SNARE
TOM'S
PERCUSSION
MASTER LEVEL
Figure 1-3:
The sound
module can
be plugged
right into the
mixer but
has to be
played by
another
source.
INPUT SENS.
INPUT SENS.
INPUT SENS.
INPUT SENS.
PALETTE
PALETTE
PALETTE
PALETTE
SOUND VARIATION PITCH DECAY LEVEL A LEVEL B
SOUND
SIZE MEM LEFT LISTEN MARK DELETE
SHIFT
KICK
SNARE
RIM
HIGH
MID
LOW
PERC.
CYMBAL1 CYMBAL2
HI-HAT
Deciphering direct boxes
A direct box (or DI box, short for Direct Induction) is used to connect a
guitar or bass directly into the mixer without having to run it through an
amp first. A direct box’s purpose is twofold:
✦ To change the guitar’s impedance level so that the mixer can create the
best sound possible
✦ To change the nature of the connection from unbalanced (quarter-inch)
to balanced (XLR) so that you can use a long cord without creating noise
For more on cord types as well as balanced versus unbalanced signals,
see Book I, Chapter 2.
For most home recordists, the main purpose of a direct box is to act as an
impedance transformer. You’re unlikely to need a long run of cords from
your guitar to your mixer. Without a direct box changing your impedance
levels, your guitar signal might sound thin or have excess noise.
Piping the Music into Pro Tools
13
Perusing the preamp
The preamp is one of the most crucial elements of a recording system
because using one can affect your instrument’s sound significantly. Most
professional recording studios have a variety of preamps to choose from,
and engineers use a particular preamp based upon the type of sound they’re
trying to capture.
The three basic types of preamps available are solid-state, tube, and hybrid.
(You can find out more about preamps in Book I, Chapter 5.)
Solid-state
Solid-state preamps use transistors to boost the level of the microphone or
instrument. Top-quality (expensive) solid-state preamps are generally
designed to produce a sound that’s clear and accurate (George Massenburg
Labs and Crane Song brands, for instance). Solid-state preamps can also be
designed to add a pleasing distortion to the music (Neve and Neve-clone
preamps, for example). Many recording professionals prefer the clear and
accurate sound of a solid-state preamp for acoustic or classical music or any
situation where capturing a very natural sound is important. The preamps in
your Digidesign interface are solid state. Although not as high of quality as
many of the more expensive external preamps, they are certainly serviceable
for most purposes and allow you to create top-quality music when you use
them correctly. (I show you how to do this in Book I, Chapter 5.)
Tube
Since the beginning of the digital recording revolution, professionals have
complained about the harshness of digital recording. As a result, many
digital-recording pros prefer classic tube preamps because they can add
warmth to the recording. This warmth is actually distortion, albeit a pleasing
one. All-tube preamps are generally very expensive, but they are highly sought
after among digital recording aficionados because of their sound. Tube preamps work well with music when you want to add color to the sound (that
is, not produce an accurate representation of the original source sound). No
wonder they show up a lot in rock and blues — and they’re great for recording drums. You can also find tube preamps that are clean and open — much
like the high-end solid state preamps that I describe earlier — such as those
made by Manley Labs.
Discovering What
You Need
Microphones produce a lower signal level than line-level devices (synthesizers, for example); thus, they need to have their signal level increased. For
this purpose, you need a preamp, a device that boosts a microphone’s
output. Preamps can be internal or external, meaning they could reside
within your mixer or be a separate unit that you plug in between your
microphone and mixer.
Book I
Chapter 1
14
Meeting the Mixer
Hybrid
A hybrid preamp contains both solid-state and tube components. Most of the
inexpensive tube preamps that you find in the marketplace are actually
hybrids. (These are also called starved-plate designs because the tubes don’t
run the same level of voltage as expensive tube designs.) These types of preamps are usually designed to add the classic tube warmth to your instrument’s sound. How much the sound is colored by the tubes and how pleasing
that colored sound is to the listener’s ears is dependent upon the quality of
the preamp. Most hybrid preamps allow you to dial in the amount of character
(pleasing distortion) that you want.
Your Digidesign interface will come with one (Mbox 2 Mini), two (Mbox 2 and
Mbox 2 Pro), or four (Digi 002, 003, 002 Rack, and 003 Rack) preamps. If you
want to plug in more mics than the number of preamps you have or if you
want to be able to produce different sounds from your preamps, you need to
buy one or more external preamps, such as the one shown in Figure 1-4.
Figure 1-4:
An external
preamp.
Meeting the Mixer
A mixer is the heart of any recording system. Take a look at Figure 1-5.
Although a mixer might seem daunting with all its knobs, buttons, sliders,
and jacks, it’s really one of the most interesting and versatile pieces of equipment that you’ll have in your studio. With a mixer, you can control the level
of the incoming signal, adjust the tonal quality of an instrument, blend the
signals of two or more instruments, and do a host of other things. And don’t
worry; after you read through this book, you’ll get the hang of all those
knobs in no time.
For the Pro Tools home recordist (that’s you), the mixer is incorporated into
your computer software. (Of course, you can always use an external hardware mixer if you want.) The mixer in Pro Tools does the job well enough
that you don’t need an external mixer although some people prefer having
physical faders and knobs to mess with.
If you’re a knob-turner and like to physically touch the instrument you’re
playing (or, for that matter, the gadget you’re tweaking), consider choosing
the 003 instead of the other Digidesign interfaces. This unit has physical
faders that link perfectly with Pro Tools LE software.
Managing the MIDI Controller
15
Book I
Chapter 1
Discovering What
You Need
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
Figure 1-5:
The mixer is
the heart of
your home
studio
system.
If you already have one of the other Digidesign interfaces (such as the
Mbox or 003 Rack) and you want physical faders, you might want to add a
Command|8 (as shown in Figure 1-6) whenever you have the cash. Thirdparty control surfaces are available that are compatible with Pro Tools, such
as the Mackie Control Universal (by Mackie).
Managing the MIDI Controller
If you’re like most home recordists, you’ll end up using some sort of MIDI
controller in your studio. (See Book I, Chapter 4 for more about MIDI.) The
purpose of this piece of equipment is to allow the various MIDI instruments
to communicate and synchronize with one another.
16
Recognizing the Recorder
Figure 1-6:
A computer
control
surface
offers you
real knobs
and faders
and still
uses the
mixer that’s
part of your
Pro Tools
software.
MIDI is a protocol that musical instrument manufacturers (in a rare moment
of cooperation) developed to allow one digital instrument to communicate
with another. MIDI uses binary digital data, in the form of 1s and 0s, to tell an
instrument to play or release a note, to change sounds, and send a host of
other messages. (Discover more about MIDI in Book I, Chapter 4.)
MIDI controllers come in many shapes and sizes. The most common are
computer software, keyboard, or standalone controllers. These controllers
can reside within the computer (Pro Tools, for example, has MIDI capabilities), a keyboard (synthesizer), or a separate box. They enable you to either
play, in real time, another instrument or to trigger another instrument with
the sequencer, which is a MIDI program that allows you to play an instrument
without actually playing (like a player piano). They just need to have MIDI
capability and be connected through their MIDI ports (using MIDI cables).
Pro Tools software has fine MIDI capabilities, so you don’t need to buy a separate MIDI controller. I recommend that you use the MIDI functions in Pro
Tools before deciding to invest in another MIDI controller. I think you’ll be
pleased with what you can do with Pro Tools.
Recognizing the Recorder
The recorder is where your music actually gets, well, recorded. In Pro Tools,
your recorder consists of your computer and the software. Sound becomes
data and is stored as digital information, as 1s and 0s. Digital recording
Recognizing the Recorder
17
introduces very little noise into the final sound and can be copied without
any loss in that sound quality, depending on the bit depth and sample rate at
which you record, of course.
A digital recorder is included as part of your Pro Tools setup. Digital
recorders use two terms to describe the overall quality of the sound that
they produce — sampling rate and bit depth.
Sampling rate
Sampling rate refers to the frequency at which the recorder samples the
incoming sound source. When a recorder samples a sound, it actually takes a
small snapshot of the audio signal. Typical sample rates for digital recorders
are 44.1 kHz (the sample rate for audio CDs), 48 kHz, 88.2 kHz, and 96 kHz
(the sampling rate for DVD audio). The higher the number, the more samples
are taken each second, and the closer the recorded sound is to the original.
The more times per second that a digital recorder samples the sound of the
incoming signal, the more of the original sound it includes (which results in,
among other things, a bigger sound file that takes up more space on your
computer). These numbers are described in kHz (kilohertz) — that is, as
taking place thousands of times per second. For example, when you record
at 48 kHz, the sound is sampled 48,000 times every second. This sounds like
an awful lot, but accurate sound requires lots of samples.
Bit depth
When you start looking at digital recorders, you’ll hear jargon such as 16-bit
(the bit depth of audio CDs), 20-bit, 24-bit, and so forth. This is the bit depth,
which is described in terms of bits. (A bit, short for BInary digiT, is the basic
unit of information in the binary numbering system used by computers.) The
numbers 16, 20, and 24 relate to the amount of digital information that can
be contained in each of those sample rates that I describe in the previous
section, “Sampling rate.” The higher the number, the more accurately the
sound is represented; most professional audio gear now records at a 24-bit
resolution. With that higher number, however, the sound takes up more of
your digital storage space. This usually isn’t a big deal, though, considering
the low cost of huge hard drives.
A/D and D/A converters
A third variable that affects how good a digital recorder will sound is the
type of analog-to-digital (A/D) and digital-to-analog (D/A) converters that the
recorder uses. The A/D and D/A converters are what actually transform an
analog sound source into digital information and back again. They do this by
Discovering What
You Need
Digital recorders
Book I
Chapter 1
18
Recognizing the Recorder
taking small snapshots of the incoming signal (at whatever sampling rate the
converter uses) and applying a number to that sample (based upon the bit
depth).
For example, suppose that you have a 24-bit converter with a 48 kHz sampling rate. When it senses an auditory signal — a vocal perhaps — the
A/D converter takes a snapshot (measurement) of that signal 48,000 times
per second (48 kHz). Each of these snapshots is given a value between
–8,395,008 and +8,395,008 (24-bit resolution has 16,790,016 possible levels),
which puts the vocal sound somewhere on a chart corresponding to a
waveform shape. The recorder in turn reads these numbers, and the D/A
converter translates these numbers back into an analog waveform again.
(Pshew!)
Converting an analog signal into digital data and back again is a highly technical process. You could spend days or even weeks reading about the intricacies of audio conversion. (Check out Principles of Digital Audio by Ken C.
Pohlmann, published by McGraw-Hill Professional; or The Art of Digital Audio
by John Watkinson, published by Focal Press, if you’re into this techy stuff.)
The most important thing to remember when considering A/D and D/A converters is how well you like the sound. If the converter sounds good to you,
it’s a good converter.
You can buy separate A/D and D/A converters that can sound better than the
one included in your Digidesign hardware. Depending on your ears, your
engineering skills, and the style of your music, the improvement in sound
of external converters can range from barely noticeable to mind-blowing.
Before you spend any money on external converters, though, I highly recommend working on your skills as a songwriter, a musician, and an engineer.
The computer
No matter which platform of computer you choose (Mac or PC), the stuff
you find inside your computer plays a major role in determining how
smoothly (or how less than smoothly) your Pro Tools system runs. (Book II,
Chapter 1 details the best computer setups and needed specs for Pro Tools.)
To set up a Pro Tools computer, you need several things:
✦ A computer (preferably with a speedy processor)
✦ Bunches (BIG bunches) of memory
✦ Dual hard drives
✦ An audio interface
This is the Digidesign hardware that you use with Pro Tools LE software
or the M-Audio hardware you use with Pro Tools M-Powered edition.
✦ The software (Pro Tools, of course)
Recognizing the Recorder
19
The following list clues you in on the various pieces of hardware that you
find in your computer:
✦ The CPU: The CPU (processor) is the heart of your computer studio. The
speed of your CPU ultimately dictates just how well any program runs
on it. As a general rule, for audio, get the fastest processor that you can
afford. For most audio software, you need at least a Pentium IV for the
PC or a G4 for Mac.
Because computer hardware is always changing and nearly unlimited
options are available for the different components you find on a computer (especially on a PC), I strongly recommend that you consult the
Digidesign compatibility pages at its Web site before you buy a computer. Or, if you already have a computer, first check whether it’s
compatible:
a. Find compatibility information at
www.digidesign.com/index.cfm?nevid=3&langid=100&
b. Choose your version of Pro Tools and hardware or OS type from the
drop-down menus.
If you own a PC and have no idea what’s in it, use PC Wizard to find out
what you have and compare it against the requirements for running Pro
Tools. You can download PC Wizard by going to www.cpuid.org/pc
wizard.php.
✦ Memory: Computer-based audio programs and all their associated plugins are RAM (random access memory) hogs. My advice: Get a lot of
RAM. Okay, that’s not very specific, but how much you really need
depends on your recording style. If you do a lot of audio tracks and want
reverb or some effect on each track, you need more RAM (and a faster
processor).
Pro Tools recommends a minimum of 768MB of RAM for basic operation,
but you should really get a lot more, especially if you’re using the DV
Toolkit or Music Production Toolkit options available for your system. In
this case Digidesign recommends at least 1 gigabyte (GB) of RAM or PC
users and 1.5GB of RAM or Mac users.
Regardless of the platform you choose (PC or Mac), keep in mind that
you can never have too fast of a processor or too much memory.
✦ The hard drives: To record audio, be sure you get the right types of
hard drives. Notice how I said hard drives (plural). Yep, you should get
more than one if you want to record more than a few tracks of audio.
Book I
Chapter 1
Discovering What
You Need
If you can afford it, get a dedicated computer — one specifically for recording audio — because running other types of applications (home finance,
word processors, or video games) can cause problems with your audio
applications and reduce the stability of your system.
20
Recognizing the Recorder
You want one hard drive to hold all the software and the operating
system and the second drive just for audio data. Having two drives
greatly increases the likelihood that your system remains stable and
doesn’t crash on you, especially if you try to run 16 or more tracks.
Choose your hard drives wisely. For the software hard drive, you can get
away with a stock drive (usually the one that comes with your computer). For the audio, though, you need a drive that can handle the
demands of transferring audio data at high speed. The main things you
want to look for are spindle speed, seek time, and buffer size:
• Spindle speed: Also called rotational speed, this is the rate at which
the hard drive spins. For the most part, a 7,200 rpm drive will work
well for recording and playing back audio.
• Seek time: This is the amount of time the drive takes to find the
data stored on it. You want an average seek time under 10 milliseconds (ms).
• Buffer size: Often called cache buffers, these memory units store data
while it’s being transferred. You want a buffer size of at least 2MB.
As for the size of the hard drive — again, bigger is better, at least in the
audio drive where you store your music. For the core system drive, you
can get by with a 60GB drive; for the audio, 120GB is still pretty conservative because audio data can take up a ton of space. For example, a
5-minute song with 16 tracks recorded at a 24-bit resolution and 44.1 kHz
bandwidth takes up about 600MB of hard drive space (about 7.5MB per
track minute). Recording at 96 kHz bandwidth takes up about 20MB per
track minute.
The track count that your system can handle is directly related to the speed
of your hard drive: The faster the drive, the more tracks you can record and
play back at once. (Of course, the type of drive you get determines how large
a role your processor plays.) My current choice for a drive is a Maxtor 7200
rpm ATA IDE drive with an 8.5 ms seek time and an 8MB cache buffer.
You can use internal IDE/ATA and SATA drives as well as external FireWire or
FireWire 800 drives for recording audio with Pro Tools. However, you cannot
use USB 2.0 drives: For some reason, they are slower than FireWire drives in
real-world testing.
Getting the sound in and out
After you have a computer with enough speed and muscle (see the earlier
section, “The computer”), you need the appropriate hardware to get the
sound in and out of it. Traditionally (if there can be traditions in such a new
technology), you needed a sound card — also called a PCI card because it
fits in the PCI (Peripheral Component Interface) slot in your computer. You
also needed an audio interface, which allowed you to get the sound from
your mixer or preamp to the sound card. This is not the case anymore.
Recognizing the Recorder
21
Currently, audio can be brought in and out of a computer in several ways:
✦ Through an interface connected to the USB port: The Mbox 2k, Mbox 2
Mini, and Mbox 2 Micro have USB connectivity. This interface works
great; the only problem is that you’re limited to two inputs and two outputs because of the relatively slow data transfer speed of USB ports. If
you don’t see yourself needing to record more than two tracks at once,
this might be a good option for you.
✦ Through your FireWire port: The Mbox Pro, Digi 003, and the Digi 003
Rack connect to your computer through a FireWire port. FireWire is
preferable to USB because the transfer speed is fast enough to keep
latency (the delay from the audio going in and coming back out of your
computer) to a minimum. FireWire ports are inexpensive and available
on laptop computers as well as desktop systems, which makes FireWire
interfaces more versatile than PCI-based systems.
Each of the Digidesign and many of the M-Audio interfaces are described in
detail in Book II, Chapter 2.
Software
If you’re using a Digidesign interface, you’ll also be using Pro Tools LE software; if you’re using M-Audio hardware, you’ll be using the Pro Tools MPowered version. Down the road, however, you might want to add some
other software to your system. This can include programs such as Acid (for
creating loops) or Logic (for more MIDI-intensive work).
On the Internet, you can find an online discussion board for each of the
major audio-recording software programs. Before you buy, go to the sites of
the systems that interest you and see what people say about the programs.
Ask questions, explore the issues that the people are having with the
programs, and look for comments that reflect how well the programs interact with Pro Tools and your Digidesign hardware. Doing so can save you lots
of time dealing with bugs in your system, allowing you to record a lot more
music. You can find these sites by using the product name as the keyword in
your favorite search engine or by checking out these Internet forums:
www.gearslutz.com/board
www.homerecording.com
www.prosoundweb.com
Discovering What
You Need
✦ Through a PCI card connected to your computer’s PCI slot: None of
current the Digidesign interfaces use a PCI card. However, several of the
M-Audio interfaces (if you’re using the M-Powered version of Pro Tools
software) use PCI cards to connect with your computer. These use a
sound card that installs in your computer and might or might not have a
separate box that houses the converters, inputs, and outputs.
Book I
Chapter 1
22
Signing On to Signal Processors
www.recording.org
www.homerecording.com
Signing On to Signal Processors
Part of the recording process involves making adjustments to a sound before
or after it’s been recorded. This is the job of the signal processor, which
comes in three varieties — equalizers, dynamic processors, and effects
processors. They can be incorporated into the system or be separate, standalone units. For most Pro Tools users, the signal processors of choice are
integrated into the software as plug-ins, although you can also use external
processors by sending the audio out of your computer and back in again.
Equalizers (EQ)
Equalizers enable you to adjust the frequencies of a sound in a variety of
ways. In effect, you tell the frequencies to
✦ Go away. You can get rid of unwanted noise or an annoying ringing by
reducing select frequencies.
✦ Come hither. Add life or presence to an instrument by bringing the best
characteristics of that instrument forward.
✦ Scoot over. You can make room within the frequency spectrum for each
of the instruments in your mix by selectively boosting or cutting certain
frequencies.
You can find out more about EQ (and discover some great EQ tips and
tricks) in Book VI, Chapter 3. The three main types of EQ are graphic, shelf,
and parametric. The following sections give you the rundown.
Graphic EQ
Use graphic equalizers to choose a specific frequency to increase or decrease
by a certain amount, generally up to 6 or 12 decibels (dB). Doing so enables
you to eliminate an offending frequency from the signal or make other
adjustments to the tonal quality of the source signal. The graphic EQ has a
certain number of frequency bands that you can adjust. You’re limited to
only those frequency bands that your EQ has available. Figure 1-7 shows a
typical graphic EQ.
23
Signing On to Signal Processors
Book I
Chapter 1
Figure 1-7:
A graphic
equalizer.
HIGH CUT
LEVEL
LO CUT
HIGH CUT
LEVEL
Shelf EQ
A shelf equalizer affects a range of frequencies above or below the target frequency. Shelf EQs are generally used to roll off the top or bottom end of the
frequency spectrum. For example, you can set a shelf EQ to roll off the frequencies below 250 hertz (Hz) in order to reduce the amount of rumble (lowfrequency noise) in a recording. You can see how this looks in Figure 1-8.
Notice how the shelf EQ gradually reduces the amount of energy (sound)
below the set point and then levels off: hence, the shelf in its name.
0dB
Figure 1-8:
A shelf
equalizer
works like
this.
−4dB
250Hz
Parametric EQ
The parametric equalizer enables you to choose the specific frequency that
you want to affect as well as the range of frequencies to put around that frequency. With a parametric EQ, you dial in the frequency that you want to
change, and then you set the range (referred to as the Q) — that is, the
number of octaves that the EQ will affect. Check out Figure 1-9: The two diagrams show how the Q relates to the range of frequencies affected. (The
higher the Q setting, the narrower the band of frequencies affected.)
The parametric EQ is one of your most useful tools when mixing all your
individual tracks into a stereo pair. I describe this tool in detail in Book VI,
Chapter 3.
Discovering What
You Need
LO CUT
24
Signing On to Signal Processors
Q=1
+4dB
0dB
1.2 kHz
Figure 1-9:
A parametric
equalizer in
a digital
system. Top:
Using a
small Q.
Bottom:
Using a
large Q.
Q=8
+4dB
0dB
1.2 kHz
Dynamic processors
Dynamic processors regulate the amount of sound or energy that gets passed
through them. This amount is defined as the dynamic range — the range
between the softest sound and the loudest sound. Dynamic processors come
in three varieties: compressors/limiters, gates, and expanders. I explain each
variety in the following sections.
Dynamic processors are used in a variety of ways. Use them to
✦ Control the signal going into the mixer and recorder.
✦ Tame the levels and correct the effects of an erratic musical performance when mixing.
✦ Optimize the levels of the finished stereo tracks when mastering.
Dynamic processors are some of the most useful tools that you have in your
home studio. See Book VI, Chapter 4 for more on dynamic processors.
Compressors/limiters
A compressor’s job is to compress the dynamic range of the sound being
affected. The purpose of the compressor is to eliminate transients (unusually
loud notes) that can create clipping (digital distortion). The compressor
Signing On to Signal Processors
25
limits not only how loud a note can be, but it also reduces the difference
between the loudest and softest note (compressing the dynamic range).
A limiter works much like the compressor except that it severely limits the
highest level of a sound source. The limiter is basically a compressor on
steroids; it gives you beefed-up control over volume. Any signal above a certain level, called the threshold, gets chopped off instead of compressed (like
with the compressor). A limiter is a good choice in extreme situations, such
as when you want a really in-your-face snare drum sound. In this instance,
the limiter essentially eliminates any dynamic variation from the drummer’s
snare drum hits and makes them all as loud as possible.
Gates
A gate is basically the opposite of the limiter. Rather than limiting how loud a
note can get, the gate limits how soft a note can get. The gate filters out any
sound below a certain setting (the threshold) while allowing any note above
that threshold to be heard.
Gates are often used on drums to keep unwanted sounds from the cymbals
from bleeding through to the tom-tom or snare drum mics, or on guitars by
refusing to allow the noise generated by guitar effects to be heard when the
instrument isn’t playing.
Expander
An expander is basically the opposite of a compressor — instead of attenuating (reducing the volume of) the loudest notes in a performance, an expander
attenuates the softest notes. For example, if you have a singer whose breath
you can hear in the mic and you want to get rid of that particular blemish,
just set the expander to go on at a level just above the annoying breath
sounds to subtly drop the offending noise.
Effects processors
Effects are historically used to mimic real-world situations. As a home
recordist, you will likely discover a great affinity toward your effects processors because they enable you to create sonic environments without having
to rent some great recording room. For example, imagine dragging your
drums and all your recording equipment into a large cathedral, setting them
up, and spending several hours getting the mics placed just right. Sounds
Discovering What
You Need
Compressors are used extensively on vocals; the device keeps transients at
bay by gently reducing the highest level that goes through it. Compressors
are also used in mastering to raise the overall volume of a song without creating distortion. The device does this by reducing the overall dynamic range;
as a result, a compressor effectively raises the volume of the softer notes
without allowing the louder notes to be too loud and distorting.
Book I
Chapter 1
26
Signing On to Signal Processors
like a lot of work, right? (I’m tired just thinking about it.) Well, how about
recording your drums in your modest home studio and simply choosing the
“cathedral hall reverb” patch instead? Now that’s much easier.
I can practically guarantee that you will use effects processors all the time in
your studio. Scope out Book VI, Chapter 5 for how to use them effectively.
In the world of effects processors, you have many choices, and many more
show up every year. The most common effects processors are (in no particular order) reverb, delay, chorus, flanger, and pitch correction. Read on for
the lowdown on each type.
Reverb
Reverb is undoubtedly the most commonly used effects processor. With
reverb, you can make any instrument sound as if it were recorded in almost
any environment. Reverb, a natural part of every sound, is the result of the
sound bouncing around inside a room. The larger the room, the more pronounced the reverb. The purpose of a reverb in audio production is to make
an instrument sound more natural (especially because most instruments are
recorded in small, nonreverberant rooms) or to add a special effect. Reverb
can make almost any recorded instrument sound better — if used correctly.
Delay
Think of delays as a recording studio’s version of an echo. The delay can be
set to happen immediately after the original sound or be delayed much
longer. Delay can sound natural or be used as a spacey special effect. You
can have a single echo or multiple delays (very common with the snare
drum in reggae music, for instance). Delays are commonly used on vocals
and guitar although you can hear them on just about any instrument,
depending on the style of music.
Chorus
A chorus effect can make one instrument sound like several. Chorus effects
add very slightly off-tune versions of the unaffected sound, which results in
a fuller sound. You find chorus effects used on vocals, guitars, and lots of
other melodic instruments.
Flanger
A flanger (pronounced flanj-er) effect is similar to chorus effect in sound
except that the flanger gets its sound from delaying part of the affected
sound in relation to the original, rather than altering its pitch. Flangers are
sometimes used on background vocals and solo instruments to add an interesting texture. This is a unique sound that you recognize almost immediately
upon hearing it.
Making Sense of Monitors
27
Nowadays, you can just choose the flanger patch (sound) on your effects
processor to get this sound. Isn’t technology great?
Pitch correction
Pitch correction, like its name suggests, is used to correct an out-of-tune note.
You can use this effect to help a singer or an instrument player sound better
by fixing those notes that are slightly out of tune. Pitch correction (also
called auto-tune) has gotten a bad rap lately (mainly from its overuse and
potential for abuse with a singer who can’t sing in key). When used sparingly
and appropriately, pitch correction can make an otherwise decent vocal performance really shine. Auto-tune can also be used to create some interesting
effects, such as that robotic-vocal sound you hear on so many of the pop
songs on the radio nowadays. The most easily distinguished example is the
lead vocal on Cher’s “Believe.”
Making Sense of Monitors
To record and mix music, you need to be able to hear it. (Hey, obvious things
need love, too.) Monitors make this happen. You can use headphones or
speakers as monitors; most home studios use both. Monitors are an essential part of a recording studio because you need to get what you’re recording
and mixing into your ears before you make sure that it sounds good.
Without good speakers, you won’t know what your mixes are going to sound
like on other speakers. (Find out more about mixing in Book VI.)
Headphones
Chances are that your first home studio will be in a spare bedroom or a
corner of your garage or basement. All your recording, monitoring, and
mixing will be done here. If that’s the case, a set of headphones is indispensable because you can turn off your speakers and still hear what’s being (or
was) recorded. When you go to record a guitar using a microphone in front
of the guitar amp, you want to hear only the guitar — not the guitar amp and
the guitar amp coming back through your monitors. Headphones allow you
to do this. (See Figure 1-10.)
Book I
Chapter 1
Discovering What
You Need
The flanger effect comes from the early days in recording. You create the
flanger effect the old-fashioned way by recording a duplicate track of the one
that you want to flange, using a two-track recorder. You then play the two
identical parts back at the same time and gently press against the edge of
the two-track tape (the one with the duplicate part) while it’s running. This
delays certain parts of the sound slightly and drastically changes the character of the instrument.
28
Making Sense of Monitors
Figure 1-10:
Studio
headphones.
Speakers
For most home recordists, your first set of monitors consists of the home
stereo system. Sooner or later, though, you’re gonna want a real set of monitors. Studio monitors come in many varieties, but the home recordist’s best
bet is a set of near-field monitors. Near-field monitors are designed to be positioned close to you (which is often the case anyway because most home
recordists have very little room in which to work).
Near-field monitors come with or without an amplifier. The amplified monitors are active monitors, and the nonamplified monitors are passive monitors.
Which type of monitor you choose depends on your budget and whether
you like the idea of the amp coming with the speakers or you prefer to purchase the amp separately. Figure 1-11 shows an active, near-field monitor.
The amplifier is located inside the speaker cabinet.
Mastering Media
29
Book I
Chapter 1
Discovering What
You Need
Figure 1-11:
An active
near-field
monitor: The
amplifier is
located
inside the
speaker
cabinet.
If you end up getting passive monitors, you need to buy an amplifier to send
power to the speakers. The amplifier connects to the outputs of the mixer
and boosts the signal to the speakers. A good power amp should be matched
in power to work well with whatever speakers you have.
Mastering Media
After you mix your music, you need to save your final music on some kind of
media. The two most common mediums for Pro Tools users are CD and raw
computer files. Which medium you choose depends upon what your goals
are. For instance, if you intend to send your finished mix to a mastering house,
you’re better off saving it as raw audio data in a computer file. On the other
hand, if you master your music yourself and just want to have it duplicated
(or you want to give copies for your friends to play), you want to use a CD.
30
Mastering Media
CD
With the cost of CD-R (write) and CD-RW (rewrite) drives plummeting, CD
mastering is the only choice for most home recordists. With CDs, you can
back up large amounts of data at a very low cost, and you can burn audio
CDs that can play in any CD player. You can even send out your mastered CD
to be duplicated and packaged for retail sale. (Book VIII, Chapter 1 details
the process for burning CDs and how to have mass quantities created.)
Computer files
Sometimes you won’t want to master your music directly to CD. You might
decide to have a professional mastering house do it, or maybe you want to
put your music on the Internet. In those situations, store your recordings as
computer files. The following sections describe the most commonly used file
formats for storing recorded music.
WAV and AIFF
WAV (Microsoft Wave format) and AIFF (Apple; Audio Interchange File
Format) files are the formats for audio files found with most professional
audio software. The advantage to saving your music to WAV or AIFF is that
when you hand over a CD containing your WAV and/or AIFF files to a mastering house, the recorded sound is actually in a higher-quality format than that
of the finished CD (provided that your recorder records in 20 or 24 bit,
which most do). You can also take your music files to any other studio that
supports these file formats and work with them there.
MIDI
A MIDI file is not an audio file; rather, it’s a data file that contains MIDI information that can be transferred from one computer to another. An advantage
to MIDI files is that they take up less room than an audio file. The disadvantage is that they contain only the MIDI information and no sound. To play a
MIDI file, you have to have a sound module. And the sound you get from the
file depends entirely on what sound source you use.
MP3
MP3 is a file format that has become quite popular on the Internet. Its advantage over audio CDs and other computer files is that it takes up less room.
Its disadvantage is that the data is compressed and the sound quality is not
near that of commercial CDs (contrary to what MP3 proponents claim). You
can find out more about MP3s and audio quality in Book VIII, Chapter 2.
Chapter 2: Getting Connected:
Setting Up Your Studio
In This Chapter
Getting to know the various types of connectors
Plugging in your equipment
Creating an efficient workstation
Making your room sound great (or at least decent)
O
kay, so you’re ready to turn that spare bedroom or basement into a
recording studio. After you unpack all your shiny new gear and get it
plugged in properly, you need to get your room to work for you. This
involves creating an efficient place to work, but above all, it means getting
your room to sound good. This can be tricky; after all, pro studios spend
tons of time and money getting the room to sound great. You’re going to
have to do much the same. You may not have to spend a ton of money (as if
any of us could), but you will need to spend some time.
After you decide on a space for your home recording system, the next steps
involve setting up the system and getting your space to work for you. In
this chapter, I help you make sense of all those connectors that you end up
using — and help you get them all plugged in properly. I also show you how
to find the best way to work in your environment, with a goodly measure of
tips and tricks thrown in to make your room sound as good as possible.
Making Connections
No matter what type of home recording equipment you have, one thing’s for
sure — you’re gonna have to plug in some cords somewhere. Exactly where
depends on the particular system you own, so read through this section to
make sense of all those different cords and connectors, whether analog or
digital.
You probably have a lot of experience with analog connectors and cords,
such as the ones on your stereo system. You might never have come in contact with digital connectors, though, unless you’ve plugged in a DVD player
to your TV or had a chance to go into a recording studio that uses digital
gear. If you’ve already had this foretaste, pay particular attention to the
“Digital” section of this chapter.
32
Making Connections
Analog
No doubt you’ve had a chance to see and use a variety of analog connectors.
If you play a guitar or keyboard (synthesizer), for example, you’re familiar
with a quarter-inch analog plug. Some microphones use an XLR analog plug.
Keeping it all straight can be a little confusing: Why do you have to use one
plug for one thing and another for something else? And what’s a TRS plug,
anyway?
Read on to decipher the secrets of the most-common analog connectors:
✦ Quarter-inch
• Mono/TS
• Stereo/TRS
✦ XLR
✦ RCA
Quarter-inch analog plugs
A quarter-inch plug is the most common audio connector and one of the most
versatile as well: You see it on cables strung all over the studio to connect
instruments, amps, speakers, headphones, and mixers. Quarter-inch plugs
come in two varieties: mono/TS or stereo/TRS.
Mono/TS plugs
The humble plug at the end of the cord you use for your guitar or synthesizer is an example of a mono quarter-inch plug; mono (monaural) means it
has only one channel with which to send the signal. This type of plug is also
referred to as a TS plug (short for Tip/Sleeve): The tip is the very tip of the
plug, and the sleeve is the rest of the cylindrical metal part. A plastic divider
separates the two sections, each of which is connected to a different part of
the cable. Check out Figure 2-1 to see this familiar plug.
Figure 2-1:
A typical
quarter-inch
plug.
TS plugs are used for a variety of purposes: to go from your guitar to your
guitar amp, from your synthesizer to your mixer, from your mixer to your
power amplifier (amp), and from your power amp to your speakers. You’d
expect that one cord could work for all of these applications. After all, a TS
Making Connections
33
The speaker cord also carries a lot more current (power) than the instrument cable; that’s why it doesn’t have a shield. The high signal level covers
up any noise present in the cord. Because there isn’t nearly as much current
present in an instrument, you don’t want to use a speaker cord for your
instrument; instead, you need the instrument cable’s shield to keep down
the noise. If you do use a speaker cord for your instrument, you might end
up with some noise — a hiss, buzz, or even a radio broadcast coming out of
your amp (or wherever you plugged in your instrument).
When you buy cords with TS plugs, first be sure to look at (or ask) what purpose the cord is designed for. Then, when you get it home, be sure to make a
note of what type of cord it is so that you use it correctly. You can mark your
cord a number of ways: You can put colored tape on it (red for speaker or
blue for instrument, for example), put a tag or label on it, or (gasp) dot it
with nail polish.
You generally don’t need to worry about which end of the cord you plug into
your instrument because the signal travels equally well in either direction.
However, currently (so to speak), you can buy cords that are designed to
send the current in one direction. (The cord has an arrow on it designating
which direction the signal should flow.) I call these designer cords, and two of
the most common brands are Monster and Planet Waves. The theory behind
these cords is that they do a better job of preserving the sound qualities of
the instrument for which they’re designed. These cords are specifically
designed for almost every instrument and application known to humankind.
Instrument cords are often called unbalanced lines because of how they’re
wired. An unbalanced cord has one wire surrounded by a braided shield; the
wire is connected to the tip of the TS plug and the shield is connected to the
sleeve. The signal is sent through the wire, and the shield is used for the
ground. (It keeps down the noise.) Balanced lines are also available, which I
explain in the following section on stereo/TRS plugs.
Stereo/TRS plugs
A stereo/TRS (Tip/Ring/Sleeve) quarter-inch plug looks like a stereo headphone plug. (Take a look at Figure 2-2.) The tip is at the very end of the plug,
the ring is the small middle section located between the two plastic dividers,
and the sleeve is the rest of the cylindrical metal part of the plug. A TRS plug
can be used a couple of ways: as a balanced cord or with a Y cord. Read on
to find out what these terms mean.
Book I
Chapter 2
Getting Connected:
Setting Up
Your Studio
plug is a TS plug is a TS plug, right? Well, not really. The same plug can be
wired differently, and it can carry different levels of power. For example, an
instrument cord (the one you use for your synthesizer or guitar) contains
one wire and a shield: The wire is connected to the tip, and the shield is connected to the sleeve. Comparatively, a speaker cord contains two wires and
no shield: One wire is connected to the tip and the other to the sleeve.
34
Making Connections
Keeping your balance
Why is it that balanced cords are so conveniently noise-free? The balanced cord — with
two wires and a shield inside — is wired with
the same signal running through both wires.
One is 180 degrees out of phase with the other
(their wave forms are exactly opposite one
another) so that the crest of one wave occurs
at exactly the same time as the trough of the
other, canceling out each other. When they get
to the mixer (or wherever they’re plugged in to),
one of the signals is instantly flipped and added
to the other. Any noise that was built up in the
signal is cancelled out. (Yep, it’s wave cancellation from high-school physics. Who knew it
also rocks?)
Figure 2-2:
Use a
balanced
(TRS) plug
to connect
professional
audio gear.
✦ A balanced cord is used on professional audio gear to connect the various pieces of equipment: the mixer to the recorder, for example. The
advantage with a balanced cord is that you can have longer cord runs
without creating noise.
✦ A Y cord consists of a TRS plug on one end and two TS plugs on the
other, forming (you guessed it) a nice representation of the letter Y. The
purpose of this cord is to allow you to insert an effects processor — a
compressor or an equalizer, for example — into the Line In insert jack of
a mixer. Check out Chapter 3 of this mini-book for all the details.
The TRS plug both sends and receives a signal. The Y cord is wired so
that the tip sends the signal and the ring receives it (see Figure 2-3). The
sleeve is connected to the shield of each cable.
Making Connections
35
Speaker
Getting Connected:
Setting Up
Your Studio
Tip wired to tip of TRS plug
Plug into insert
jack of mixer
Sleeve wired to sleeve
Figure 2-3:
Use a Y cord
to send and
receive a
signal.
Tip wired to ring of TRS plug
XLR connectors
An XLR connector is used for microphones and some line connections
between professional gear. This cable has a female and a male end. (See
Figure 2-4.) The cord is wired much like a TRS connector and is balanced to
keep the noise down. The XLR microphone cable is also called a low-Z cable
because it carries a low-impedance signal.
Figure 2-4:
An XLR
connector:
One end is
male (left),
and the
other is
female
(right).
Book I
Chapter 2
36
Making Connections
RCA plugs
RCA plugs — named for good ol’ RCA; also called phono plugs — are common
on home stereo (and some semi-pro) audio gear. (See Figure 2-5.) They function much like a TS plug and aren’t very common in professional audio
equipment. Some mixers include them, however, so you can connect a tape
deck. They are also used for digital S/PDIF signals. (See the upcoming section, “S/PDIF connectors,” for more on these babies.)
Figure 2-5:
An RCA
plug, used
mainly on
consumer
stereo and
some semipro audio
equipment.
Digital
Because you’re using Pro Tools and your computer, you’re going to get comfortable with digital connectors. Digital audio equipment is a recent invention: No one standard has emerged. Because of this lack of standardization, a
variety of digital connectors are on the market, only a few (or one) of which
might be equipment that you own or intend to purchase. Regardless, knowing about the most common connectors and their purposes will help you
decide what equipment is right for you.
MIDI connectors
MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) is a handy communication protocol that allows musical information to pass from one device to another. To
allow for the free passage of such information, MIDI jacks are located on a
whole host of electronic instruments — synthesizers, drum machines, sound
modules, and even some guitars. To connect all these instruments, you need
MIDI cables. The MIDI cable contains five pins (male) that plug into the
female MIDI jack (port) on the instrument or device. (See Figure 2-6.)
Making Connections
37
Book I
Chapter 2
OUT-A
IN-B
OUT-B
The Mbox 2, Mbox 2 Pro, Digi 003, and 003 Rack audio interfaces each have
MIDI ports, but the Mbox 2 Mini does not. Some M-Audio interfaces come
with MIDI ports, but others don’t. Check out Book II, Chapter 2 for an
overview of many of the M-Audio interfaces and whether they have MIDI
ports. If you want to use MIDI and you have an Mbox 2 Mini or one of the MAudio interfaces without MIDI ports, you need to buy a separate MIDI interface. Regardless of which Digidesign interface you have, you need to buy the
cable for those ports separately.
AES/EBU connectors
AES/EBU (Audio Engineering Society/European Broadcasting Union) cables
are much like S/PDIF (Sony/Philips Digital Interface Format, which I talk
about next). The AES/EBU standards require that these cables transmit two
channels of data at a time. They differ from S/PDFIF connectors in that they
consist of XLR plugs and use balanced cables. (See Figure 2-7.) AES/EBU was
developed to be used with professional audio components: hence, the use of
balanced connections (the kinds used in professional-level equipment). Your
Pro Tools interface doesn’t have any AES/EBU connectors; S/PDIF and ADAT
Optical are used instead. (See the following sections.)
S/PDIF connectors
S/PDIF connectors consist of an unbalanced coaxial cable (one wire and a
shield) and RCA plugs. (See Figure 2-7.) They can also be made from fiber
optic cable and a Toslink connector. The S/PDIF format can transmit two
channels of digital data at once. S/PDIF protocols are very similar to AES/
EBU standards except that S/PDIF was originally designed for the consumer
market, which explains why unbalanced cords are used. Even so, you can
find S/PDIF connectors on a lot of pro recording gear along with (or instead
of) AES/EBU.
Getting Connected:
Setting Up
Your Studio
Figure 2-6:
MIDI
connections
have two
male ends.
The device
contains the
female jack.
38
Making Connections
Figure 2-7:
S/PDIF and
AES/EBU
connectors
look the
same as
RCA (S/
PDIF) and
XLR (AES/
EBU) but are
marked as
digital.
DIGITAL I/O-A
OUT
If you want to use cords longer than about 3 or 4 feet when you’re using an
S/PDIF connection — or about 15 feet for AES/EBU connections — your best
bet is to use video or digital audio cables. Regular audio cables degrade the
sound at longer distances because they can’t transmit the type of signal that
digital equipment produces without affecting the quality of the sound. If you
use audio cables for longer distances, the sound loses some definition,
becoming what some people describe as “grainy.”
ADAT Optical
The ADAT (Alesis Digital Audio Tape) Optical (Lightpipe) format can send
eight tracks of digital audio at once. Developed by Alesis, ADAT Optical has
become a standard among digital audio products. It consists of a fiber optic
cable, using a special connector developed by Alesis. In your Digidesign
interface, you can use ADAT Optical for either eight channels of ADAT information or for Optical S/PDIF connections; however, you can use only one or
the other at one time. You choose your preference from the Hardware Setup
screen under the Setup menu.
TDIF connectors
TDIF (Teac Digital Interface Format) is Teac’s return volley to ADAT Lightpipe.
TDIF uses a standard computer cable with a 25-pin connector. Like the ADAT
Lightpipe, TDIF cables can transmit eight channels of digital data at a time.
TDIF isn’t nearly as common as ADAT Lightpipe because Alesis made its
Lightpipe technology available to other companies to use for free (and
encouraged them to adopt it as a standard) and also because the Alesis
ADAT recorders were so common. You won’t find any TDIF connections in
your Digidesign hardware — ADAT is used instead.
Working Efficiently in Your Studio
39
Working Efficiently in Your Studio
Setting up your studio for comfort and efficiency
One important thing to keep in mind is that you need to be comfortable.
Start with a good chair. Then set up your workstation to be as easy to get
around as possible. Figure 2-8 shows a classic L setup. Notice how everything that you need is within arm’s reach.
If you have enough room, you might want to consider a U-shaped setup
instead. You can see an example of that in Figure 2-9. If you don’t have an
external mixer/recorder, it’s often best to put the computer in the middle
position.
If you use a lot of outboard gear — such as preamps or effects processors —
and you think that you need to plug and unplug a lot, invest in a good patch
bay so that you don’t have to strain to get at your cords tucked away behind
your mixer. A patch bay is a device that consists almost entirely of inputs
and outputs, allowing you to route your gear in (and out) in an almostinfinite variety of ways. If you’re going to do much plugging and unplugging,
you’ll quickly find out that a patch bay is truly indispensable.
Using a patch bay will not only save your back but will also save your cords
because repeated plugging and unplugging wears them out quickly and produces buzzes that can be hard to locate.
Taming heat and dust
The number-one enemy of electronic equipment is heat. Dust is a close
second. Try to set up your studio in a room that you can keep cool and fairly
dust-free. Air conditioning is a must for most studios. Be careful with a
window air conditioner, though, because it can make a lot of noise, requiring
you to shut it off when you record. Depending on where you live, this could
let your room heat up really fast. To deal with dust, try to cover up your
equipment when you’re not using it, especially your microphones. A plastic
bag placed over the top of a mic on a stand works well.
You could also just put your mics away when you’re not using them.
However, if you use a particular mic a lot, you’re best off leaving it on a stand
rather than handling it because some types of mics are pretty fragile. (You
can find more on caring for your mics in Book I, Chapter 5.)
Getting Connected:
Setting Up
Your Studio
I hope you spend a great number of hours in your studio creating some great
music (albeit possibly to the dismay of the rest of your family). Start by
designing your studio layout for comfort and productivity. Then, consider
how to protect your equipment and also effectively place your audio
monitors.
Book I
Chapter 2
40
Working Efficiently in Your Studio
speaker
speaker
mixer/
recorder
computer
chair
synthesizer
Figure 2-8:
A classic L
setup:
Everything
is easy to
reach.
Monitoring your monitors
If you have a set of near-field monitors — the kind that are designed to be
placed close to you — they should be set up so they’re equidistant from
each other and from you, at a height that puts them level with your ears.
Figure 2-10 illustrates the best placement for your monitors. Placing your
monitors this way ensures that you hear the best possible sound from them
and can accurately hear the stereo field. (For more on the stereo field, see
Book VI, Chapter 1.)
Optimizing Your Studio
41
Book I
Chapter 2
Getting Connected:
Setting Up
Your Studio
speaker
speaker
mixer/
recorder
chair
computer
synthesizer
Figure 2-9:
A U-shaped
setup works
great.
Optimizing Your Studio
Chances are that your studio occupies a corner in your living room, a spare
bedroom, or a section of your basement or garage. All these spaces are lessthan-ideal recording environments. Even if you intend to record mostly by
plugging your instrument or sound module directly into the mixer, how your
room sounds will have a big effect on how good your music will turn out to be.
Face it: As a home recordist, you’re unlikely to have easy access to the
resources that create a top-notch sound room. Commercial studios spend
serious cash — up to seven figures — to make their rooms sound, well, professional. However, you don’t need to spend near that amount of money (you
mean you don’t want to sell off the private jet . . .?) to get great sounding
recordings. All it takes is a little understanding of how sound travels, some
ingenuity, and a little bit of work.
42
Optimizing Your Studio
speaker
speaker
mixer/
recorder
Figure 2-10:
Monitors
sound best
when
equidistant
from each
other and
you.
chair
Sound isolation
One of the concerns that you (and your neighbors) are probably going to
have when you start recording in your home is the amount of sound that
gets in and out of your room. Sound waves are nasty little buggers. They get
through almost any surface, and there’s not a lot you can do to stop it from
happening.
You’ve probably noticed this phenomenon when somebody with a massive
subwoofer in his car drives by blasting some obnoxious music. (Ever notice
how someone else’s music is obnoxious, whereas your music never is, no
matter how loud you play it? Amazing . . . ) Your windows rattle, your walls
shake, and your favorite mug flies off the shelf and breaks into a thousand
pieces. Well, this is one of the problems with sound: It’s physical energy.
The best (and classic) way to isolate your studio room from everything
around it is to build a room within a room. I won’t go into detail here, but
you can go to my Web site (www.jeffstrong.com) to find some resources
to get you started.
For the purpose of most home recordists who don’t have the money or
space to build a room within a room, the best thing you can do is to try to
understand what noises are getting in and getting out and deal with those.
For example, if you live in a house or apartment with neighbors close by,
don’t record live drums at night. You could also consider using a drum
machine or electronic drum set (plugged directly into the recorder) instead.
Optimizing Your Studio
43
Also keep these things in mind when trying to isolate your studio:
✦ Dead air and mass are your friends. The whole concept of a room
within a room is to create mass and still air space so that the invading or
escaping sound gets trapped. When you work on isolating your room,
try to design in some space that can trap air (creating dead air) — such
as a suspended ceiling or big upholstered furniture — or use double
layers of drywall on your walls (mass).
✦ Don’t expect acoustical foam or carpet to reduce the noise. Using these
can help reduce the amount of sound that bounces around inside the
room but won’t do much to keep sound in (or out of) the room.
✦ Isolate the instrument instead of the room. Isolating the sound of your
guitar amp can be much less expensive than trying to soundproof your
whole room. Most commercial studios have one or more isolation booths
for recording vocals and other acoustic instruments. You can use that
concept to create your own mini isolation booths.
One idea for a truly mini isolation booth is to make an insulated box for your
guitar (or bass) amp. If you just have to crank your amp to get the sound
you want, you can place it inside an insulated box to reduce the amount of
noise that escapes to the outside world. Check out Figure 2-11 to see what I
mean.
You can also create an isolated space in a closet by insulating it and closing
the door when you record, or you can put your guitar amp (or drums) in
another room and run a long cord from there to your recorder. If you do this,
remember that for long cord runs, you need to use balanced cords. Otherwise, you might get a bunch of noise, and your signal might be too low-level
to record very well.
Sound control
After you create a room that’s as isolated from the outside world as possible,
you need to deal with how sound acts within your room.
Book I
Chapter 2
Getting Connected:
Setting Up
Your Studio
Another idea is to try to choose a room in your house or apartment that is
farthest away from outside noise (an interior room, for instance). Basements
also work well because they’re underground and most of the sound gets
absorbed by the ground. Installing a little fiberglass batting insulation in the
ceiling — typical house insulation that you can find at your local home
center — can isolate you pretty well from your neighbors’ ears. Detached
garages are generally farther away from other buildings, so sound has a
chance to dissipate before it reaches your neighbors (or before your neighbors’ noise reaches your garage).
44
Optimizing Your Studio
Top is 2 x 4 frame wrapped by 3/4-inch plywood
and filled with fiberglass insulation
Amp sits inside
3/4-inch plywood
inner shell
Figure 2-11:
An ampisolator box
reduces the
amount of
noise you
hear from
your amp,
even when
it’s cranked.
Hole for
mic cable
3/4-inch plywood outer shell
2 x 4 frame
Fiberglass
insulation
Sound travels through the air in the form of waves. These waves bounce
around the room and cause reflections (reverberations or echoes). One problem with most home studios is that they’re small. Compounding this, sound
travels very fast — 1,130 feet per second, to be exact. When you sit at your
monitors and listen, inevitably you hear the reflected sound as well as the
original sound that comes from your speakers. In a big room, you can hear
the original sound and reflections as separate sounds, meaning that the
reflections themselves become less of a problem. For a good home studio,
you have to tame these reflections so they don’t interfere with your ability to
clearly hear what’s coming from the speakers.
How all these reflections bounce around your room can get pretty complicated. Read up on acoustics (how sound behaves) to discover more about
different room modes: axial (one dimension), tangential (two dimensions),
and oblique (three dimensions). Each relates to how sound waves interact
while they bounce around a room. Knowing your room’s modes can help
you come up with an acoustical treatment strategy, but there are very
Optimizing Your Studio
45
complicated formulas for figuring out your room’s modes, especially those
dastardly tangential and oblique modes.
Book I
Chapter 2
You can find out more on room modes, as well as discover some room mode
calculators, on the Internet by using your favorite search engine and searching for “room modes.” Go to the Web site matches, and you’ll see quite a few
places to start looking. I recommend that you research these modes; this
topic alone could fill an entire book.
Getting Connected:
Setting Up
Your Studio
So, at the risk of offending the professional acoustical engineers in the world,
I’m going to share some tricks that I’ve been using in my studios. My main
goal has been to create a room with a sound I like and that gives me some
measure of control over the reflections within the room. Because I both
record and mix in one room (as do most home recordists), it’s helpful to be
able to make minor adjustments to the sound to accommodate what it is I’m
trying to accomplish.
The two aspects of recording where sound control plays a major role —
tracking and mixing — each require different approaches for you to get the
best possible sound out of your recordings. I cover both these aspects in the
following sections.
Sound control during tracking
Tracking is what you’re doing when you’re actually recording. Two things
that can make a room a bad environment for tracking are
✦ Not enough sound reflection
✦ Too much sound reflection
The goal when tracking is to have a room that’s not so dead (in terms of
sound reflection) that it sucks the life out of your instrument yet not so alive
that it colors the sound too much. The determining factor in how much
reflection you want in your room is based upon the instrument that you
record and how it sounds in the room.
If your room is too dead (not enough sound reflection), you want to add
some reflective surfaces to liven up things (the room, that is). On the other
hand, if your room is too live (too much sound reflection), you need to add
some absorptive materials to tame those reflections.
You could go out and buy a bunch of foam panels to catch the reflections, or
maybe put in a wood floor or attach some paneling to the walls to add some
life, but you’d be stuck with the room sounding only one way. It might end
up sounding good for recording drums or acoustic guitar, but then it would
probably be too live for getting a great vocal sound (which requires a deader
space). One solution that I’ve found to work well is to get (or make) some
portable panels that can either absorb or reflect the sound.
46
Optimizing Your Studio
Figure 2-12 shows an absorber/reflector that I’ve used and have found to
work quite well. (Go to my Web site, www.jeffstrong.com, for plans to
build your own.) One side has an absorptive material (dense fiberglass insulation), and the other side has a reflective surface (wood). They are put
together in an attractive frame and designed to stack easily when you want
them out of the way. Even with very little woodworking experience, you can
crank out a set of them in a weekend for very little money (about $30 per
panel). I guarantee that if you make them (or hire someone to make them for
you), you’ll find dozens of uses for them around your studio.
3/4-inch plywood
Figure 2-12:
Portable
absorbers/
reflectors
make
changing
the sound
characteristics of
your room
quick and
easy.
Space filled with
fiberglass insulation
2 x 4 frame
Fabric wrapped around
insulation and frame
(but not 3/4-inch plywood)
Sound control during mixing
Your first step in getting control of the sound of your (probably less-thanperfect) room during mixing is to get a good pair of near-field monitors.
Near-field monitors (as you can read about earlier in this chapter) are
designed to be listened to up close (hence the “near” in their name) and will
lessen the effects that the rest of the room has on your ability to hear them
accurately and get a good mix.
Optimizing Your Studio
47
Even with these two things (near-field monitors and low mixing levels), you
still need to do something to your room to make it work better for you. The
secret to a good mixing room is to tame the reflections of the sound coming
out of your speakers.
Dealing with high and midrange frequencies is pretty easy — just put up
some foam panels or the absorptive side of the panels shown in Figure 2-12.
(See? I told you that you’d have a use for those panels.) Start by hanging two
(or putting them on a stand or table) so they’re level with your speakers on
the wall behind you. Also, put one on each sidewall right where the speakers
are pointed. (See Figure 2-13.) This positioning gets rid of the higher frequencies and eliminates much of the echo.
You might also need to put something on your ceiling right above your head,
especially if you have a low (8 feet or less) or textured ceiling. (You know, one
with that popcorny stuff sprayed on.) You might not want to mount one of
the absorption panels over your head because they’re fairly heavy. Wrapping
up a couple of 2' x 4' panels made of dense fiberglass (the same ones used in
the absorber/reflectors) in fabric would work just about perfectly. In fact,
you can make some overhead diffusers like the ones shown in Figure 2-14
very easily. (The plans for these are also on my Web site at www.
jeffstrong.com.)
You can also place a set of these overhead panels in the corners of your
room behind the speakers. Just hang them at the same height of your speakers so that they cut off the corner of the room. If there isn’t enough room to
fit the panels at an angle in the corner, you can eliminate the backing from
the fiberglass and bend the fabric-covered panel to fit right in the corner.
Either approach will absorb sound that might otherwise bounce around
behind the speakers.
Another thing that you need to consider when you’re mixing is standing
waves, which are created when bass tones begin reflecting around your
room and bounce into each other. Standing waves have a weird effect on mix
Book I
Chapter 2
Getting Connected:
Setting Up
Your Studio
The next step to mixing in an imperfect room is to mix at low volumes. I
know: That takes the fun out of it, right? Well, as fun as it might be to mix at
high volumes, it rarely translates into a great mix. Great mixing engineers
often listen to their mixers at very low levels. Yes, they occasionally use high
levels, but only after the mixing is pretty much done — and then only for
very short periods of time. After all, if you damage your ears, you blow your
career as a sound engineer. (Hey, that rhymes! Or is there an echo in here?) I
don’t want to sound like your mother, but try to resist the temptation to
crank it up. Your ears last longer, and your mixes sound better.
48
Optimizing Your Studio
quality. They can either overemphasize the bass from your speakers (resulting in mixes that are short on bass) or cancel out some — or all — of the
bass coming out of your speakers (resulting in mixes with too much bass).
One of the problems with standing waves is that they can really mess up
your mixes, and you might not even be aware that they are there.
speaker
speaker
mixer/
recorder
chair
Figure 2-13:
Positioning
the
absorber/
reflectors
like this
helps with
mixing.
Mount the absorber/reflectors
with the absorber facing out
Optimizing Your Studio
49
Picture frame wire or chain
1-inch rigid fiberglass insulation attached to
1/4-inch peg board and wrapped in fabric.
Studio monitors
Figure 2-14:
Use
overhead
panels to
get rid of
reflections
off the
ceiling.
To find out whether you have a problem with standing waves in your studio,
sit in front of your monitors and put on one of your favorite CDs. Now listen
carefully. Okay, now lean forward and backward a little bit. Does the amount
of bass that you hear change as you move? Next, get up and walk around the
room. Listen for places within the room where the bass seems to be louder
or softer. You might find places where the bass drops out almost completely.
If either inspection gives you a variable experience of the bass, you are the
proud owner of standing waves. Don’t worry, though. You can tame that
standing-wave monster with a pair of bass traps.
Bass traps absorb the energy in the lower frequencies so they don’t bounce
all over your room and throw off your mixes. You can buy bass traps made
of foam from some music stores, or (yep, you guessed it) you can make your
own out of wood and insulation. Check out Figure 2-15 for a look at some
homemade bass traps. (The plans to make these are — you guessed it —
located on my Web site: www.jeffstrong.com.)
Getting Connected:
Setting Up
Your Studio
Studio ceiling
Book I
Chapter 2
50
Optimizing Your Studio
Space filled with
fiberglass or
cotton insulation
3/4-inch plywood
2 x 4 frame
Figure 2-15:
Use bass
traps to get
rid of
standing
waves.
1/4-inch or 1/8-inch plywood (thickness depends
on the frequencies that you want to trap)
The most common placement for bass traps is in the corners behind you
when you’re sitting at your mixer (as shown in Figure 2-16). You might also
find that putting a set in the other corners of the room helps even more.
After you place the bass traps, do the listening test again. If you notice some
areas where the bass seems to get louder or softer, try moving the bass
traps around a little. With some trial and error, you’ll most likely find a place
where they seem to work best.
Try not to get stressed out about the sound of your room. As important as
your room’s sound may be, it has a lot less effect on the quality of your
recordings than good, solid engineering practices. I know, I keep saying this,
but it’s important to remember. Do what you can, and then work with what
you’ve got.
Optimizing Your Studio
51
Book I
Chapter 2
speaker
mixer/
recorder
chair
Figure 2-16:
Put bass
traps in the
corners
behind you
to eliminate
standing
waves.
Bass traps set into the rear corners of the room
Getting Connected:
Setting Up
Your Studio
speaker
52
Book I: Home Recording Basics
Chapter 3: Meeting
the Mixing Board
In This Chapter
Understanding the mixer
Deciphering channel strips
Exploring routing and busing
I
f you’ve ever been to a recording studio and watched a great recording
engineer create a mix, you’ve probably been entranced by how he or she
interacted with the mixing board: a dance around the mixer, a twist of a
knob here, a push of a slider there. All this to the beat of the music. It’s like
watching a genius painter paint, or a great orchestra conductor conduct, or
a brilliant surgeon surge . . . er, operate. I’ll even bet that one of the reasons
you got interested in home recording is so you could have a chance to play
with those knobs yourself. Go ahead and admit it — you’ll feel better.
Well, you get your chance in this chapter. Not only do you discover what
each of those knobs does, you get a feel for all the functions that the mixer
fulfills in the studio. You discover what makes up a channel strip and how
it’s used. You get a chance to see how routing works (and even discover
what routing is). And you see how digital mixers use fader banks to provide
numerous functions while taking up very little space.
Meeting the Many Mixer Types
Pro Tools has an integrated mixer as part of its software, with which you
can effectively do anything that you could possibly want (and more) with
your music. You can adjust equalizers (EQ), levels, panning, and routing (to
name just a few) by either using keystrokes on your computer keyboard or
administering a click of your mouse.
Even with all the power that the Pro Tools mixer has, some people (myself
included) like to have some knobs to twiddle and some faders to slide while
they work. If you’re one of these people, the following sections help you
decide which of the three hardware options would work best for you.
54
Meeting the Many Mixer Types
Analog mixer
An analog mixer, as shown in Figure 3-1, enables you to route the signals
within the analog domain. Analog mixers tend to have many knobs, lights,
and faders — a set for each channel. If you want to change from mixing
inputs (your instruments) to mixing sounds recorded on the recorder, you
need to plug and unplug cords, or you need to get a mixer with twice as
many channels as your recorder.
Many people prefer analog mixers because they believe they produce better
sound than the mixer in Pro Tools software (not necessarily the case, at least
to my ears), or they want to create elaborate mixes for a band to hear in
their headphones while they record.
Figure 3-1:
An analog
mixer has
tons of
knobs,
lights, and
faders to
play with.
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
Meeting the Many Mixer Types
55
Digital mixer
A digital mixer, as shown in Figure 3-2, is a great option for Pro Tools users
because it can perform the same functions as a conventional analog mixer in
a lot less space, and you don’t have to worry about having as many analog
connections. Also, the whole issue of sound degradation from going back and
forth to digital is moot because all your music stays in the digital domain.
00 01 36
L
Figure 3-2:
A digital
mixer
performs
the same
functions
but takes up
less space
than an
analog
mixer.
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
049-1
R
9/10
11/12 13/14 15/16
Master
If you want to use a digital mixer with Pro Tools, make sure that it’s compatible with the software — an easy task if you go to www.digidesign.com/
compato — and that you have enough channels of digital connection in your
hardware. (Book II, Chapter 2 details each Digidesign hardware capability.)
Like in Pro Tools software, routing — sending your signals to various places
within the mixer — becomes almost easy using a digital mixer. You can switch
between input and track channels without having to change a single cord.
Book I
Chapter 3
Meeting the
Mixing Board
The main disadvantage to using an analog mixer with Pro Tools (or any
other computer-based recording system) is that you need just as many
analog inputs and outputs for your Digidesign hardware as you want channels to mix in your mixer. For example, if you want to mix a 16-track song,
you need the equivalent of two Digi 002 Rack interfaces, assuming Digidesign
would let you hook up two at once. At the time of this writing you are limited
to just one. (For more on audio interfaces, check out Chapter 1 of this minibook.) The other possible disadvantage is that each analog-to-digital-toanalog conversion degrades the sound of your music.
56
Meeting the Many Mixer Types
One of the great things about digital mixers is that any EQ or effects plug-ins
that you use are powered by the processor in the mixer, not the processor in
your computer. This can allow you to have many more effects on your mixes
(not always a good thing) before your system bogs down.
The downside to this arrangement is that you’re stuck with the EQ and
effects that are part of your mixer. If they aren’t that great to begin with, you
might not want to use them.
The computer control surface
A computer control surface is a piece of hardware that interfaces with your
computer to control the controls within the Pro Tools software. As far as I’m
concerned, a computer control surface, like the one included with the Digi
003, is the way to go with Pro Tools — as long as you have a powerful-enough
computer to handle the mix — because all your EQ and effects processing is
still done in the computer, unlike what you’d get with a digital or analog
mixer. (Chapter 1 of this mini-book has more on what constitutes a powerfulenough computer.) Quite a few control surfaces integrate smoothly with Pro
Tools, including the cool-looking Command|8 shown in Figure 3-3.
Before you buy a control surface from another manufacturer, check out the
compatibility page at the Digidesign Web site at www.digidesign.com/
compato to make sure that the one you want works with Pro Tools.
Figure 3-3:
A computer
control
surface acts
like a digital
mixer for a
computerbased
system.
Understanding Mixer Basics
57
These controllers send MIDI messages — coded with the Musical Instrument
Digital Interface communications protocol — to the computer telling it
which parameters to change. These controllers can easily be programmed
to work like a separate digital mixer.
In spite of the many types of mixers out there (see the “Meeting the Many
Mixer Types” section, earlier in this chapter), you’ll discover that they all
generally follow the same basic principles and have a number of elements in
common. You’ll also discover that regardless of the type of mixer you use,
two mixing aspects — the channel strip and busing (routing) — are universal. The rest of this chapter concentrates pretty heavily on these two
aspects.
Think of a mixing board as a sort of air-traffic controller for the audio world.
Just like how the guys and gals in the towers near an airport communicate
with all the planes in the air, making sure that collisions are avoided and that
traffic moves quickly and efficiently, the mixer routes all the incoming and
outgoing signals from the instruments, effects, and recording devices so they
get to their desired destination without any problems.
Channel strip
The mixer is composed of numerous channels into which you process the
signal of an instrument or microphone before it’s sent to the recorder. This is
the channel strip. (See upcoming Figure 3-6.) Even though the mixer might
look confusing with all its knobs, lights, and sliders, you need to understand
the basic makeup of just one channel to understand them all. The channel
strip’s job is to take the signal from an instrument or microphone and send it
where you want it.
The channel strip also enables you to make adjustments to the level of the
signal in a variety of ways: overall level, a certain frequency’s level (different
for each mixer), left or right stereo level, and effect levels.
The channel strip serves two functions:
✦ To control the level of an input device (input channel)
✦ To control the level of a recorded track (track channel)
Both functions of the channel strip operate the same way. In fact, you can
use the same channel for either an input or a track signal. The only difference is which device (an instrument or the output from your recorder) is
plugged in.
Meeting the
Mixing Board
Understanding Mixer Basics
Book I
Chapter 3
58
Understanding Mixer Basics
Input jack
An input jack, generally located on the back of the mixer (although it can
also be on the upper part of the top of the mixer), is where you plug in your
instrument (or microphone or the output from your recorder). Many professional mixers have both a quarter-inch and an XLR jack for each channel.
(See Figure 3-4.) For the lowdown on jacks, read through Chapter 2 of this
mini-book.
A quarter-inch jack is used for line-level sources, such as a synthesizer, a
drum machine, or the cord from the Line Out of your guitar amp. An XLR
jack is for the male end of the microphone cord. Most semi-pro and pro
mixers also have phantom power available to a XLR jack. The phantom
power feature sends a low level of current from the mixer to the microphone
to get the microphone to produce a signal. Phantom power is necessary for
professional condenser mics.
If you choose not to mic your guitar amp and instead want to plug your
guitar directly into your mixer, you need to do one of three things:
✦ Plug your guitar into your amp and run a cord from the Line Output of
the amp to the mixer’s channel input.
✦ Plug your guitar into a direct box (a device that changes the impedance
level of your guitar or bass; Book I, Chapter 1 has more on this) and plug
the direct box into the channel input of your mixer.
✦ Plug your guitar directly into the hi-Z input (high impedance) of your
mixer, if it has one. (You’ll find this feature on many newer mixers.)
Most pro mixers allow you to use either a balanced or unbalanced cord. (For
the scoop on balanced and unbalanced cords, see Book I, Chapter 2.) Read
through the owner’s manual for your mixer to find whether balanced connections are part of your mixer’s specs. Balanced connections are important
only if you have really long cords (longer than 25 feet, for instance) because
they cut down on the noise that can result from long cord runs that use
unbalanced cords.
Insert jack
Aside from quarter-inch and XLR input jacks, another jack — an Insert
jack — is often found on the back of the mixer for each channel. Its purpose
is to enable you to send the signal from the channel out to a processor, such
as a compressor or an EQ, and to receive the signal after it’s processed.
Unlike the Effect Send (as described in the upcoming section on Auxiliary
Send knobs), this jack won’t let you mix in as much effect signal as you
want — all the signal is affected. Figure 3-4 shows a typical set of input jacks.
Understanding Mixer Basics
59
Book I
Chapter 3
Mic
Meeting the
Mixing Board
line
Figure 3-4:
Input jacks
on the back
of a mixer
accept
instruments,
recorder,
and
microphone
sources.
Insert
To use the Insert jack, you need a Y cable, as shown in Figure 3-5. You connect the plug at the base of the Y to the mixer Insert jack; the plugs on the
two arms of the Y go into the input and output jacks of the processor.
Plug into Line In of compressor
Plug into Insert
jack of mixer
Figure 3-5:
Connecting
a signal
processor
to the
channel’s
Insert jack.
Plug into Line Out of compressor
60
Understanding Mixer Basics
Trim knob
The job of the Trim knob (labeled as Gain on your Digidesign interface) is to
adjust the level of the input signal as it enters the mixer. (You usually find
the Trim knob at the top of the front panel of the channel strip, as shown
in Figure 3-6.) The amount that you adjust the Trim knob depends on the
instrument that you plugged in to the channel strip; so be sure to listen as
you make your adjustments.
✦ If the Trim knob is set too high: You get distortion.
✦ If the Trim knob is set too low: You get too weak of a signal to record.
Most Trim knobs have a switch or markings for Line or Mic(rophone) signals. See these markings in Figure 3-6. Turn the knob all the way left for line
sources — or slowly keep turning it right for microphone sources — until
you get a nice, clean sound coming into the mixer. See Book III, Chapter 2 for
more on setting input levels.
If you choose to use an external preamp, check the owner’s manual of your
mixer to see whether you can bypass the internal preamp. Most professional
mixers enable you to do this. Sometimes just having the Trim knob all the
way down (to the Line marking) disengages the preamp from the circuit —
and this is the case with the Digidesign preamps. You can also plug into the
line inputs if you want to keep your Digidesign preamps free for other mics
or instruments.
Equalization
Semi-pro and pro mixers give you the opportunity to adjust the equalization
(EQ) of your signal — that is, to boost or reduce specific ranges of sound
frequency. Less expensive mixers have fewer equalizer settings (as few as
two — one for high frequencies and one for low frequencies). Pro mixers
have three or four; digital mixers and software mixers might have more.
Channel Auxiliary (Aux) Send knobs
You might want to add an effect, such as reverb or delay, to the signal
coming into your mixer. With effects such as reverb, you don’t want to use
the Insert jack — like you would with a compressor — because you want to
be able to control how much of the effect you actually hear. (Compressors
affect the entire signal, not some portion of it. You can find more about compressors in Book VI, Chapter 4.)
Understanding Mixer Basics
Book I
Chapter 3
Trim
Mic
High
EQ
Mid
Low
Aux1
Aux
Send
Aux2
Pan
L
Assign
R
Mute
Solo
Sub1
Figure 3-6:
Use the
mixer
channel
strip to
make many
adjustments
to your
source
signal.
Sub2
Sub3
Sub4
+6
+4
0
−4
−8
−12
−24
−00
Meeting the
Mixing Board
Line
61
62
Understanding Mixer Basics
This is where the Auxiliary (Aux) Send feature comes in. That’s what the
little knobs in the middle of the channel strip in Figure 3-6 are for. Adjust
these knobs to send as much (or as little) of the signal as you want to go to
the appropriate auxiliary component (Aux, get it?). Doing so specifies how
much (or how little) of the effects processing shows up in your final sound.
Turning the knob to the left produces less effect; turning it to the right gives
you more effect.
Not only can you set the Effect Send level at each channel (and you can send
more than one channel’s signal to each effect), you can also adjust the level
of the affected signal that’s brought back into the mixer and mixed with all
the dry signals at the master bus. (See the “Routing/Busing Signals” section
later in this chapter.) This is the Aux Return, which you can find out more
about in the “Auxiliary (Aux) Return knobs” section, later in this chapter.
Pre/Post switch
The Pre/Post switch enables you to send the signal to the Aux bus (through
the Aux Send knobs) either before (pre) it gets through the EQ and channel
fader or after (post) it goes there. Use the Pre/Post switch to send an
unequalized signal to the effect, and then to adjust the EQ of the dry (unaffected) signal without affecting what the effect sounds like. You can also use
the Pre/Post switch to control the level of both the signal and the effect with
the channel fader.
Having this option gives you more flexibility to control what the affected
sound will sound like. For example, you can send the dry signal of a kick
drum to a reverb (with the switch in the Pre position) and then boost the
bass on the dry signal. Doing this gives you some reverb on the higher frequencies without adding it to the lower ones, which would create some mud
in the final mix. The downside to this is that you can’t use a fader to control
the level of the signal being sent to the effect. (You bypassed the fader in the
Pre position.) In this case, if you raise and lower the channel fader, the
amount of effect that you hear in relation to the dry signal will change as
well. For example, when you lower the fader, you hear more effect because
less dry signal is mixed in. Comparatively, when you raise the fader, you hear
less effect because the dry signal is louder and the effect level is the same.
Pan knob
Use the Pan knob to adjust where in the stereo field (how far left or right)
your signal is heard. This knob is generally located toward the bottom of the
channel strip and is an important part of mixing. Where you put something
in the stereo field has an effect on how well it’s heard among all the other
instruments playing through the mixer. (Book VI, Chapter 1 has more details
on panning and mixing.)
Routing/Busing Signals
63
Mute switch
Solo switch
The Solo switch, when engaged, allows one channel to “sing solo” while
muting all the rest. This switch (normally located near the Mute switch) is
also commonly used during mixdown when you want to hear only one
instrument. This saves you the hassle of having to press the Mute switch on
all the rest of the channels. For example, when you work on EQing and are
affecting the lead vocal, you can press the Solo switch to mute all the other
instruments while you make your adjustments. Then, when you want to hear
what your adjusted vocal sounds like with the rest of the instruments, all
you have to do is disengage the Solo switch (press it again).
Assign switches
The Assign switches can be located just above the fader, at the top of the
mixer, or right next to the fader. Use these switches to choose where to send
the outgoing signal. You can send it to the Master bus or to any of the
submix buses. (For more on buses — the electronic pathways along which
signals are sent — see its upcoming section.) If your mixer doesn’t have a
separate Solo switch, one of the Assign switches can give you the option of
soloing that channel.
Faders
A fader, usually a slider control located at the bottom of each channel strip,
determines the overall level of the signal coming out of the channel strip
before it makes its way to the recorder, the Master bus, or the submix bus.
(Check out the following section for more details.)
Routing/Busing Signals
After you have an instrument plugged into the mixer channel strip, you want
to send that signal somewhere. This is routing or busing. (The place where
Meeting the
Mixing Board
The Mute switch, located toward the bottom of the channel strip, enables you
to silence (mute) the channel. This switch is commonly used during mixdown to help you work with the sound of a particular part in the mix. This
switch allows you to quickly silence the parts you don’t want to hear when
you’re mixing so you can concentrate on the sound of the instruments that
you want to hear. For example, when you work in EQing and balancing the
levels of the drum set, you can use the mute switch for all the other channels so you hear only the drumset tracks.
Book I
Chapter 3
64
Routing/Busing Signals
the signal ends up is, conveniently enough, a bus.) Most mixers offer numerous busing possibilities, including busing to the
✦ Master bus: Send your mixed music to a two-track recorder.
✦ Submix bus: Mix several tracks before they go to the Master bus.
✦ Control Room bus: Listen to the tracks through your monitors.
✦ Auxiliary bus: Add an effect to your signal.
In the following sections, I introduce you to some of the most used busing
options and describe some ways to make this process easier.
The busing controls are generally located on the right side of the mixing console, as shown in upcoming Figure 3-7. Here you have faders for the Master
and submix (Sub) buses; dials for the Aux bus; and Solo and Mute buttons
for the Master and submix (Sub) buses. This area is often called the master
control section of the mixer.
Master fader
A Master fader, located in the lower-right corner of Figure 3-7, controls the
Master bus, where your mixed music goes out to the 2-track recorder or
back into Pro Tools. When you have something plugged into a channel input,
it’s automatically sent to the Master bus. Where you have your Pan knob set
for each channel (how far to the left or right) dictates how much signal is
sent to the left or right channels of the Master bus. Some mixers are
designed with only one Master fader to control both left and right channels;
on other mixers, you have one fader for each left and right channel.
Sub (submix) faders
Depending on the mixer you own, you may or may not have a group of Sub
(submix) faders located to the left of the Master fader, as shown in Figure
3-7. Submix faders control the submix buses, which is where you can mix several of your tracks and group them independently of the rest of the tracks.
You use the Assign switches for each channel to choose which (if any)
submix buses you want the signal sent to.
The submix can be sent out of the mixer as a unit. For example, you might
want to record all the drums on one or two tracks instead of recording them
individually. The submix is also routed to the Master bus as a unit. If you
assign instruments to a submix, they get diverted from the Master bus and
go to the submix fader first. Then everything assigned to that submix fader
gets sent to the Master bus to be controlled by the Master fader. Most
mixers also allow you to send the submix out without having to go through
the Master bus first; often, submix outputs are located on the back of the
mixer.
Routing/Busing Signals
Sub 2
Sub 3
Sub 4
Master
L R
L R
L R
L R
L R
Book I
Chapter 3
Meeting the
Mixing Board
Sub 1
65
Aux
Send
Aux
Return
Aux1
Phones
Assign
Mas
Sub1
Aux1
Min
Max
Sub2
Aux2
Sub3
Aux2
Control Room
Sub4
Min
Figure 3-7:
The master
control
section of
a mixer
controls the
routing of
the signals
coming
from the
channel’s
strips.
Mute
Mute
Mute
Mute
Solo
Solo
Solo
Solo
Sub 1
Sub 2
Sub 3
Sub 4
Max
Master
+6
+4
0
−4
−8
−12
−24
−00
66
Routing/Busing Signals
Solo/Mute switches
Above each submix fader on your mixer, you’ll most likely have Mute and
Solo switches, as shown in Figure 3-7. Use these switches to, well, solo or
mute (that is, isolate or silence) the submix group. For example, you might
want to hear only the submix of the drums or maybe background vocals.
This switch allows you to quickly check your submix.
Control Room level knob
The Control Room level knob, usually located above the Master fader, as
shown in Figure 3-7, controls the level of the signal going through the Control
Room bus — the signal that’s sent to your studio monitors. The Control Room
level knob is fed by the Master bus and has the same mix that goes through
the master output to your recorder. This allows you to have a different volume
than the master level so you can monitor at a different volume than the level
being sent out through the Master bus.
The Control Room level knob is especially useful when you’re recording and
sending a high level to the recorder but also want to listen to what’s being
recorded — at a more comfortable, lower volume — through the monitor
speakers.
Phones knob
Like the Control Room level knob, the Phones knob (located above the
Control Room level knob in Figure 3-7) enables you to adjust the level going
to the headphones independently of the master level. The Phones knob is
fed by the Master bus and has the same mix as the Master fader.
Auxiliary (Aux) Send knobs
The Aux Send knobs, also located in the master controls section of the mixer,
allow you to send the entire mix from the Master bus to an effects processor,
such as a reverb or delay. In Figure 3-7, you can see the Aux Send knobs
above the submix fader on the left.
Auxiliary (Aux) Return knobs
The Aux Return knobs control the overall level for each of the signals routed
through an effects processor and sent back to the Master bus. You use these
knobs to mix in the amount of wet (affected) signal that you want. The wet
signal mixes with the dry (unaffected) signals from each of the channels.
Aux Assign
Some mixers can route a signal sent through an effects processor to any of
the submix buses, where they can be controlled by the corresponding
Deciphering Output Jacks
67
submix fader. This Aux Assign capability enables you to have (for instance)
the reverb you want on the drums routed to the submix fader that controls
the overall drum level. You choose your bus by pressing in the corresponding
Assign button.
At the top of many mixers are the Master Level meters, which keep tabs on
recording levels and warn you when you might be producing a signal that’s
too strong or too weak. Too strong of a signal can lead to distortion; too
weak of a signal produces a sound that lacks fidelity (sounds thin). Master
Level meters can come in the form of VU (volume unit) meters (the ones
with needles that go back and forth) or as LED lights (where green is good,
and red is bad).
Deciphering Output Jacks
Most mixers have a bunch of output jacks (where — you guessed it — the
signal comes out) located at the left on the back of the mixer, as shown in
Figure 3-8. You often find output jacks for the Master bus, headphones, monitors, and Direct Outs for each channel, as well as jacks for the Aux Returns.
Master Out jack
The Master Out jack goes to the power amp for your speakers or to a mastering recorder (2-track). This jack is controlled by the Master fader and sends
the signal that’s routed through the Master bus.
Phones jack
The Phones jack is for your headphones and is fed by the Phones knob on
the master console, which carries the same signal as the Master bus — only
you get to control the volume separately.
Monitors jack
The Monitors jack is where you plug in your monitor speakers. Control this
jack with the Monitor (or Control Room) knob on the mixer. It carries the
signal from the Master bus to the speakers.
Direct Out jacks
You get Direct Out jacks on more full-featured mixers. These jacks are controlled by their corresponding channel fader (Channel 1 goes to Direct Out 1,
Channel 2 to Direct Out 2, and so on). The signal goes directly out from each
channel without going through the Master bus.
Meeting the
Mixing Board
Master Level meters
Book I
Chapter 3
Deciphering Output Jacks
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
68
ON
16
15
14
6
13
5
12
4
3
11
Figure 3-8:
Mixers
usually have
their output
jacks in the
back.
2
10
1
9
8
7
Most semi-pro and pro mixers won’t actually have a Direct Out for each
mixer channel. That’s no big deal because Direct Out jacks are designed so
you can send a signal directly out (hence the name) from the channel to a
recorder. If you don’t have Direct Outs on your mixer, you can just use the
Insert jack to send your signal directly out of the mixer and into the recorder.
The exact procedure for this connection depends on your mixer; check your
owner’s manual.
Direct Out jacks are really helpful when you’re recording with overdubs,
when you layer a track by recording one instrument at a time. For example,
you could record the drums on Channels 1–4, the bass guitar on Channel 5,
and the guitar part on Channel 6. You then send the signal via the Direct
Outs from Channels 1–6 to the recorder’s Tracks 1–6 and send those signals
back to the mixer on Channels 9–14. You could then use Channel 7 to record
the lead guitar part to Track 7 of the recorder while listening to Tracks 1–6
on Channels 9–14. This saves you from having to crawl behind your mixer
and change cords when you want to hear the recorded track.
Making Life Easier with a Patch Bay
69
As you can see, the mixer setup can get complicated. Don’t worry. After you
get to know your mixer and get a chance to try some different routing configurations, this stuff will become second nature to you.
Aux Return jacks are where you plug in the cord from the Line Out jack of
your effects processor. This jack is fed to the Aux Return knob.
Making Life Easier with a Patch Bay
After you set up your mixer and plug it into the input devices, effects processors, and recorder, you’re set to go. But what if you want to record a track
and then listen to it right away to see whether you like what you hear? Well,
for most home recordists, this can be a problem because you’ll most likely
have only enough channel strips in your mixer for either recording or for listening. If this is the case, you have to crawl behind the mixer and unplug
your input device and then plug in the outputs from your recorder. Then,
when you’re done listening, you have to switch the cables back to record
again. All this crawling and connecting can be time-consuming (and eventually hard on your cables).
The solution is to get a patch bay, which is a device that consists almost
entirely of input and output jacks. You plug your gear into it so you can
change the cord configuration without crawling around behind your big pile
of technology. Check out Figure 3-9 for a look at a patch bay.
Figure 3-9:
Use a patch
bay to avoid
plugging
and
unplugging
gear.
An essential tool for analog studios, a patch bay is also useful for the more
complicated digital studios as well. Patch bays function by giving two series
of jacks:
✦ One in the back where you plug in all your gear
✦ One in the front that you can use to patch — connect with cables — any
one piece of gear into any other
Meeting the
Mixing Board
Aux Return jacks
Book I
Chapter 3
70
Making Life Easier with a Patch Bay
For example, imagine that you want to plug in the output from your synthesizer into Channels 1 and 2, and you want to record your friend’s guitar on
Channel 3. At the same time, you want to monitor the bass guitar on Channel
4 and the drums on Channels 5–8. This is pretty straightforward, but what if
you want to hear what you recorded on Channels 1–3? With a patch bay, all
you have to do is change the cords going into mixer Channels 1–3 at the
patch bay.
You still have to change cords when you use a patch bay, but at least everything is upfront and accessible; without a patch bay, you’re stuck having to
crawl behind your mixer and recorder to change the cords.
Chapter 4: MIDI and Electronic
Instruments
In This Chapter
Understanding Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI)
Getting to know synthesizers, drum machines, and other electronic
instruments
Synchronizing MIDI devices
Exploring sequencing
M
y first job in a recording studio was in 1985. I can still remember the
first time I walked into that studio. The owner was sitting, arms
crossed, in front of the mixing console (called a console in those days
because the mixer was an actual piece of furniture that took up nearly the
whole room). He looked at me and hit a key on the Macintosh computer sitting next to him. Then all of a sudden, a synthesizer started playing, then
another, and yet another. “This is cool,” I thought. But then I heard my
nemesis — the drum machine.
Drum machines made me lose my recording gigs as a drummer and drove
me to expand my career to that of a recording engineer as well. However, I
eventually came to love that drum machine and the many others to follow
(sigh). In fact, over the years, I became so captivated by the whole MIDI/
drum machine thing that I assembled a whole series of electronic drumsets
using drum machines and samplers — all controlled through MIDI.
In this chapter, you find out how MIDI enables synthesizers and computers
to communicate with one another — a revolutionary thing for the musician.
You get your hands dirty in the world of sequencing — recording MIDI performance information so you can play your performance automatically. You
also peruse a variety of MIDI-capable instruments and explore the ins and
outs of controlling your MIDI gear.
Like audio recording, MIDI can be a deep subject. You can go nuts trying to
understand every little nuance of MIDI. (I know some guys who are not quite
the same after plunging headfirst into this stuff.) The reality is that to use
MIDI effectively, you don’t need to know every little thing about it. In this
chapter, I focus on what you need to know to get started.
72
Meeting MIDI
Meeting MIDI
MIDI is a protocol (a set of agreed-upon standards) for musical instruments
to communicate with one another through a cabled connection and a
common digital language. This arrangement allows each one to understand
the other, regardless of manufacturer or instrument. All that’s required is an
instrument equipped with MIDI ports (jacks).
MIDI data is different from an audio recording because it contains no sound
as such; rather, it’s limited to performance information. This includes information about various performance characteristics, which (for keyboards, at
least) includes the following:
✦ Note-on and note-off: What note is played and when
✦ Velocity: How hard someone presses a key
✦ After-touch: Whether the key pressure changes after the initial press
✦ Vibrato and pitch bend: Whether the pitch changes while a key is
pressed
This information allows the MIDI musician to potentially create a performance that is as rich in texture as those of the world’s finest players.
Digital messages sent from one device to another across a cable (called the
MIDI cable, of course) create MIDI data. The cable connects to MIDI ports on
each device, and the messages are sent in the form of binary digits. Each
instrument can understand and respond to these messages.
Perusing MIDI ports
The three types of MIDI ports are In, Out, and Thru.
✦ In: The In port receives incoming messages.
✦ Out: This port sends those messages.
✦ Thru: This port sends the messages that one device receives directly
to the In port of another instrument. You use the Thru port when you
create a daisychain, which means you connect more than two devices.
Figure 4-1 shows a daisychain setup.
Meeting MIDI
73
Book I
Chapter 4
to In port
from
Thru port
Figure 4-1:
MIDI
devices can
be chained
via the In,
Out, and
Thru ports
on each
instrument.
Synthesizer B
from
Out port
Synthesizer A
MIDI signals travel in only one direction. Data flows from the Out port of one
device to an In port of another device — but not the other way around.
Likewise, data going through the Thru port originates from the first device in
the chain — not the device whose Thru port is being used. The particular
way that data flows is what gives you flexibility in how you can connect different devices together. Here are some examples:
✦ Example 1: In Figure 4-1, three synthesizers are connected in a daisychain lineup. A cable connects device A’s Out port to device B’s In port.
Another cable connects device B’s Thru port to device C’s In port. In this
scenario, device A controls devices B and C. Devices B and C can’t control any other device, because neither device B nor device C has a connection from its Out port.
✦ Example 2: Suppose you connect device B to device C by using device
B’s Out port instead of its Thru port. In this case, device A sends messages to device B but not to device C. Device B controls device C. Device
C has no control over either A or B because neither one is connected to
device C’s Out port.
✦ Example 3: Now take a look at Figure 4-2. In this figure, two devices
have MIDI cables running from the Out port of each to the In port of the
other — which allows communication to go both ways. (The MIDI interface in this figure is necessary for making MIDI connections in a computer.) For example, a master synthesizer and a computer sequencer are
frequently connected this way so you can send performance information
MIDI and Electronic
Instruments
Synthesizer C
to In port
74
Meeting MIDI
from the synthesizer to the sequencer (when you’re recording your
part) and from the sequencer back to the synthesizer (when you want to
play the part back again).
to In port
from
Out port
Synthesizer
Figure 4-2:
Connecting
two devices
with cords
going both
ways allows
two-way
communication.
to In port
from
Out port
MIDI
interface
Computer with
sequencing software
A connection to a MIDI device’s In port or through a device’s Thru port
doesn’t allow the device to control another device. A MIDI device can control another device only if the cable is connected from its Out port to the
other device’s In port.
Understanding MIDI channels
Okay, so you have a daisychain of MIDI instruments all hooked together, and
you want to control them from your master keyboard or sequencer program.
Now you want the drum machine to play the drum part and a sound module
to play the string part. This is where MIDI channels come in handy.
MIDI channels allow you to designate which messages go to a particular
machine. You can program each machine to receive messages on one or
more of the 16 MIDI channels. For instance, you can set your drum machine
to receive messages on Channel 10 (the default channel for drum sounds)
and set the sound module with the string sounds to receive data on
Channel 1. (You set the MIDI channels on your digital instrument by going
into the System Parameters menu. Check your owner’s manual for specific
procedures.) After you assign your channels, your master keyboard sends
the performance information for both MIDI signals — the drum machine and
the sound module playing the string sounds — across one MIDI cable. Each
receiving device responds only to the messages directed to the MIDI channel
that it’s assigned to receive.
Meeting MIDI
75
Having 16 MIDI channels allows you to have up to 16 separate instruments
playing different parts at the same time. You may use 16 different devices or
16 different parts from the same device if you have a multitimbral sound generator. (See the “Synthesizers” section later in this chapter for more on such
sound generators.)
You’d think that each MIDI channel would be sent along its own wire in the
MIDI cable. That’s actually not the case. Inside the MIDI cable are three
wires — two for data transmission, and one to serve as a shield. MIDI messages are sent across the two wires via a channel code, which tells the receiving device to what channel it should send the data following the code. Such a
MIDI channel message, also called a channel voice message, precedes each
performance command.
Appreciating MIDI messages
In order for MIDI instruments to communicate with one another, they need
to have a vocabulary in common. This is where MIDI messages come in. MIDI
messages contain an array of commands, including performance data, control changes, system-common messages, and system-exclusive messages
(more about this shortly).
Not all MIDI devices recognize all MIDI commands. For example, a sound
module generally can’t send performance-data messages (such as aftertouch) because a sound module doesn’t have triggering mechanisms that
produce those commands.
Check your instrument’s manual for a MIDI Implementation Chart. All MIDI
instruments come with this chart. In it, you can find a list of all the MIDI
commands that the device can send or receive. The chart also includes
information on polyphony (how many notes the instrument can play at once
and multitimbrality (how many different sounds the instrument can produce
at the same time).
Performance data
Included in performance data are note-on and note-off messages, as well as
specifications for velocity, after-touch, vibrato, and pitch bend.
Book I
Chapter 4
MIDI and Electronic
Instruments
In this scenario, the sound module with the string sounds receives all the
data from the master keyboard, responds to the messages on Channel 1, and
simultaneously sends the data from the master keyboard onto the drum
machine (via the sound module’s Thru port). The drum machine receives
the same messages from the master keyboard as the sound module but
responds only to those sent for Channel 10.
76
Meeting MIDI
MIDI performance-data messages each have 128 different values. For example, each note that you play on the keyboard has a number associated with
it. Middle C is 60, for instance. Likewise, velocity is recorded and sent as a
number between 0 and 127, 0 being the softest volume (no sound) and 127
the loudest that you can play.
Control-change messages
Control-change messages are a type of performance-data message. These
messages contain data about expression, including modulation, volume,
and pan.
System-common messages
System-common messages contain data about which channel the performance data is sent to and what sound in the sound library to play. Systemcommon messages also include information about timing data, master
volume, and effects settings.
System-exclusive messages
System-exclusive messages contain information that is exclusive to the
system or device. These messages can include data transfers of new sound
patches, among other things.
To use MIDI effectively, you don’t need to know all (or even many) of the
MIDI messages that a device can recognize. If you hook up your gear and
play, your MIDI devices generate and respond to the messages for you.
Managing modes
Your synthesizer, drum machine, or other MIDI module has four operating
modes, appropriately called Mode 1, Mode 2, Mode 3, and Mode 4. These
modes dictate how your instrument responds to the MIDI messages it
receives.
Mode 1: Omni On/Poly
In Omni On/Poly mode, your instrument responds to all the MIDI messages
coming across the wires (well, except for the MIDI channel data). This means
that your synthesizer (or whatever) tries to play the parts of all the instruments hooked up to your MIDI controller. In this mode, your device also
plays polyphonically (more than one note at a time).
Meeting MIDI
77
Mode 2: Omni On/Mono
Omni On/Mono allows your device to receive messages from all MIDI channels but lets it play only one note at time (monophonically). This mode is
rarely, if ever, used.
Mode 3: Omni Off/Poly
In the Omni Off/Poly mode, your device can play polyphonically but
responds only to MIDI signals on the channels that it’s set to. This is the
mode you use most often when you’re sequencing — recording or playing
back MIDI data. (Book V, Chapter 2 covers this process in Pro Tools in
greater detail.)
Mode 4: Omni Off/Mono
In the Omni Off/Mono mode, your instrument responds only to the messages
sent on the MIDI channel that it’s set to and ignores the rest. Rather than
play polyphonically, like in Mode 3, your instrument plays only one note at
a time. This can be advantageous if you’re playing a MIDI controller from
an instrument that can play only one note at a time, such as a flute or
saxophone.
General MIDI
If you end up composing music for other people to play on their MIDI
instruments — or if you want to use music from another composer —
General MIDI is invaluable to you. General MIDI (GM) is a protocol that
enables a MIDI instrument to provide a series of sounds and messages consistent with other MIDI instruments. With General MIDI, you can take a
Standard MIDI File (SMF) of a song created on one sequencer program, transfer the file to another program, and use that other program to play the exact
performance — sounds, timing, program changes, everything.
GM instruments contain numerous sound patches that the MIDI community
has standardized. Not all these sounds are exactly the same as far as sound
quality goes, but their sound type and location (acoustic grand piano on
Patch #1, for instance) is the same on all GM-compatible machines.
Not all MIDI-capable instruments follow the GM standards. If this feature is
important to you, be sure you find out before you buy whether the instrument that interests you is GM compatible.
Book I
Chapter 4
MIDI and Electronic
Instruments
Some older MIDI devices default to Omni On/Poly mode (Mode 1) when you
turn them on. In such a case, you have to reset your instrument if it’s one of
several in your MIDI setup. If you don’t, the instrument responds to any MIDI
message sent from the controller, not just the ones directed toward it.
78
Getting Started with MIDI
More is better
Roland and Yamaha both decided a while ago
to raise the bar on the GM Level 1 standards by
developing their own protocols. Called GS and
XG, respectively, the machines conforming to
either of these standards are synthesizers on
steroids. For example, the Yamaha XG protocol
calls for a minimum of 480 sounds, including at
least 9 drumsets and 51 types of effects (reverb,
chorus, and variations), among a host of control-change messages. The Roland GS standard, on the other hand, requires at least 226
different instrument patches and 20 different
control-change messages, among other things.
If you use a GS or an XG synthesizer to compose your music, you might be disappointed if
you play that composition back on a synthesizer that doesn’t have the GS or XG enhancements because the sound won’t be quite the
same. You’ll get the same instrument type
(grand piano, for instance), but the sound of the
instrument will be different. Also, if you use any
of the additional MIDI messages contained in
the GS and XG protocols (control change, for
example), they won’t be understood by the nonGS or -XG device.
GM standards dictate not only the particular sounds that a synthesizer has,
but also which drum sounds are located on which keys, how many notes of
polyphony the instrument has, and how many different channels the instrument can receive and send instructions on. The two levels of GM compatibility are Level 1 and Level 2.
GM Level 1 compatibility
Level 1 protocols were developed in 1991 and consist of a minimum of 128
instrument patches, 24 notes of polyphony, receiving and sending capability
for all 16 MIDI channels, 16-part multitimbrality, and a host of controller and
performance messages.
GM Level 2 compatibility
Level 2 was implemented in 1999 and includes more sounds, polyphony, and
features. A GM Level 2-compatible device has 32 notes of polyphony, 16channel support, up to 16 simultaneous instrument sound patches, and a
host of additional sounds (384, to be exact), including 2 channels of simultaneous percussion sounds. Also added to the GM2 standard are reverb and
chorus effects.
Getting Started with MIDI
Enough with the technical aspects of MIDI — you want to know how to start
using this great technology, right?
Getting Started with MIDI
79
✦ A sound generator: This device, which enables you to hear the music,
could be a synthesizer, drum machine, sound module, or sampler.
✦ A MIDI controller: This device controls the MIDI instruments in your
studio. You’ll most likely use the MIDI functions in Pro Tools for this purpose. This might also be your keyboard, electronic drum pads, or other
MIDI instruments (such as the Roland GK2a).
✦ A sequencer: This device records and plays the MIDI performances that
are programmed into it. The sequencer allows you to program your part
into the synthesizer and have it play back automatically (much like the
old-time player piano). Again, you’ll most likely use Pro Tools software
for this, but you could use a sequencer in your keyboard if you prefer.
✦ A MIDI interface: The MIDI interface is used to enable your computer to
send and receive MIDI data. If you have an Mbox 2, an Mbox 2 Pro, a Digi
003, a Digi 003 Rack, or one of the M-Audio interfaces with equipped
MIDI ports, you already have what you need to get MIDI in and out of
your system. (Sorry, Mbox2 Mini and non-MIDI M-Audio users: You have
to buy a separate MIDI interface.)
I know this sounds like a lot of stuff, but most of this gear performs more
than one function in the MIDI studio. For example, nearly all synthesizers
come with drum sounds, and some synthesizers even include a sequencer. In
this case, this one synthesizer can do the job of sound generator, drum
machine, MIDI controller, and sequencer all in one.
In the following sections, I discuss the different types of sound generators.
You might indeed find one piece of equipment that does everything you
want. In that’s not your situation, read on as I separate all the features that
different equipment has. That way, you can understand the function of each
feature and then decide how to configure your studio.
Sound generators
The sound generator is the core of the MIDI studio. This is what produces
the sounds that you hear. Without it, you might as well skip the rest of the
stuff because (of course) you won’t hear any of your work.
Sound generators can come in many different shapes and sizes: a fully functional keyboard synthesizer, an independent drum machine, a standalone
Book I
Chapter 4
MIDI and Electronic
Instruments
To get started, you first need to know just what you have to buy to do some
MIDI-ing yourself. Well, I’m sorry to inform you that you can’t do any of this
cool MIDI stuff with your vintage Stratocaster guitar or your acoustic drumset (unless you do some fancy rigging to your gear — see the sidebar, “MIDI
control this . . .”). What you do need is
80
Getting Started with MIDI
sound module, samplers, software synthesizers (soft-synths), and a computer sound card. Each of these devices has its strengths and weaknesses.
(Read on for the details.)
Synthesizers
A synthesizer, like the one shown in Figure 4-3, consists of not only sounds
but also a keyboard on which you can play these sounds. Synthesizers come
in a variety of sizes and configurations. For example, some keyboards come
with 61 keys (5 octaves), and others provide as many as 88 keys (the number
on an acoustic piano keyboard).
Figure 4-3:
A typical
synthesizer
contains a
keyboard
and a
variety of
sounds.
If you’re in the market for a synthesizer, you need to consider several things:
✦ Polyphony: Polyphony is the number of notes that sound at one time.
Most decent synthesizers nowadays have at least 16 notes of polyphony
although models that can produce 32 notes at once are not uncommon.
Each manufacturer treats polyphony differently, and the GM standards
allow some variations on the effective use of this parameter. For
instance, a synth patch might use more than one digital sound to create
the actual sound you hear. The synth patch that you love so much
might, in fact, consist of four different sounds layered atop one another.
In such a case, you just reduced your polyphony by three-fourths, just
by using that one patch. If your synthesizer has 16-note polyphony, it’s
now down to 4-note polyphony because each of those 4 notes has four
“sounds” associated with it. If you use this patch, you can play only 4
notes (a simple chord) at a time, not the 16 that you thought you had to
work with.
Your best bet is to buy a synthesizer (or sound module) with the highest
polyphony you can get, especially if you want to layer one sound on top
of another or do multitimbral parts with your synth.
Getting Started with MIDI
81
If you do any sequencing (recording or playing back MIDI data), a
multitimbral synthesizer is a must-have. Otherwise, you would need
a separate synthesizer for each type of sound that you want to play.
Fortunately, with the GM standards, compatible synthesizers made in
the last 15 years have the ability to play 16 sounds at once.
✦ Keyboard feel: Some keyboards have weighted keys and feel like real
pianos, and other keyboards have a somewhat spongy action. If you’re a
trained piano player, a spongy keyboard might feel uncomfortable to
you. On the other hand, if you have no training in piano and don’t need
weighted keys, you don’t have to pay the extra money for that feature.
✦ Sound quality: This is a subjective thing. Choose the synthesizer that
has the sounds you think you’ll use. I know this seems kind of obvious,
but buy the synthesizer whose sounds you like even if this means waiting and saving the money before you can buy. If you buy a synthesizer
that was a good deal but don’t love the sounds, you’ve wasted your
money because you’ll just end up buying the more expensive one later.
✦ Built-in sequencer: Many keyboards contain a built-in sequencer, which
allows you to program and play back your performance. Units like these
are usually called keyboard workstations or MIDI workstations because
they contain everything you need to create a song. If you’re considering
one of these complete workstations, take a good, hard look at the sequencer and the user interface — make sure that you like the way those work
for you. Each manufacturer treats the process of sequencing a little differently; you can probably find one that fits your style of working.
Drum machines
A drum machine contains the sounds of the drumset and other more exotic
drums as well as a sequencer to allow you to program rhythms. Figure 4-4
shows a typical drum machine.
Most drum machines contain hundreds of drum sounds, numerous preset
rhythm patches, and the ability to program dozens of songs. All standalone
drum machines have pads on which you can play the part. The more
advanced drum machines can give your rhythms a more human feel. Effects,
such as reverb and delay, are also fairly common on the more advanced
drum machines.
Book I
Chapter 4
MIDI and Electronic
Instruments
✦ Multitimbrality: Most decent keyboards allow you to play more than
one sound patch at a time. This is multitimbrality, which basically allows
you to have your keyboard divided into several groups of sounds. For
example, a multitimbral synth can divide a song’s chords, melody, bass
part, and drum set sounds into different groups of sounds — and then
play all those groups at once.
82
Getting Started with MIDI
VOLUME
MIN
MAX
LOW
CUT
INSTRUMENT
BOOST
BASS
REALTIME MODIFY
ALL
SELECT
OFF
CUTOFF
STYLE GROUP
HIP-HOP 1
HIP-HOP 2
HIP-HOP 3
Figure 4-4:
A drum
machine
has drum
sounds and
a sequencer
to program
rhythms.
JUNGLE
DRUM'N'BASS
TECHNO
HOUSE
ACID JAZZ
LATIN
BASS
RESONANCE
KICK 1
C
SNARE 2
SNARE 1
D
OFF
REV/DLY
SONG
DEL
COPYING
UTILITY
PORTAMENTO
T.SHIFT
GROOVE
MIDI
FLANGER
SHIFT
TAP
STYLE
KICK 2
DECAY
ROCK
OTHER
USER
MUTE
ROLL
EFFECTS
CLOSED
HH
E
HIT 1
OPEN
HH
F
KIT
PATTERN
BPM
HIT 2
RIDE
HIT 3
CRASH
G
A
VALUE
PERC 1
B
PERC 2
C
Sound modules
A sound module is basically a stripped-down version of a synthesizer or
drum machine. Sound modules don’t contain triggering devices (such as the
keys for the keyboard, pickups for the guitar, or pads for the drum machine).
What they do contain are a variety of sounds (often hundreds) that a master
controller or sequencer can trigger. The advantage to sound modules is they
take up little space and cost considerably less than their fully endowed
counterparts (the synthesizers and drum machines, that is).
If you already have a master keyboard, you might find adding sound modules to be a cost- and space-effective way to add more sounds to your
system.
Samplers
A sampler is a sound module that contains short audio samples of real
instruments. Most samplers come with sound libraries containing hundreds
of different types of sounds, from acoustic pianos to snare drums to sound
effects. These sounds are often much more realistic than those that come in
some synthesizers.
Getting Started with MIDI
83
Another common use of a sampler is recording short sections of already
recorded songs. This can be a melodic or rhythmic phrase, a vocal cue, or a
single drum or synthesizer sound. Sampling other songs is common in electronic music, rap, and hip-hop (be careful of copyright issues before doing
this, however). If you’re into electronic music or hip-hop, you might find a
sampler a necessary addition to your studio.
Soft-synths
Because you’re using Pro Tools LE or Pro Tools M-Powered, your DAW
(Digital Audio Workstation) software enables you to produce great sounds
by using soft-synth plug-ins. Soft-synths are basically software equivalents of
standalone synthesizers, sound modules, or samplers. As you can see in
Figure 4-5, a soft-synth’s GUI (its graphical user interface, the smiley face that
the software shows the world) is often designed to look just like a piece of
regular hardware, complete with “buttons” and “knobs.”
Of course, soft-synths have their advantages and disadvantages:
✦ Advantage: Soft-synths cost less than standalone units because no hardware is involved.
✦ Disadvantages: Unlike regular synthesizers, soft-synths use up processor power. This can slow down your computer system and prevent you
from recording as many audio tracks or applying as many effect patches
as you’d like. Another downside (depending on whom you talk to) is
that soft-synth programs might not sound quite as good as an external
synthesizer.
Figure 4-5:
Computerbased DAW
users can
choose softsynths to
create
synthesizer
sounds.
Book I
Chapter 4
MIDI and Electronic
Instruments
The real purpose of a sampler is to allow you to record your own sounds.
For example, in the 1980s, it was cool to make a drumset from unusual percussive sounds. A snare drum could be the sound of a flushing toilet (don’t
laugh, I actually did this) or breaking glass. Tom-toms could be grunts set
to certain pitches. You’d be amazed at the strange stuff that people have
turned into music — all with the help of a sampler.
84
Getting Started with MIDI
MIDI control this . . .
MIDI controllers aren’t just limited to those that
you can find in your musical instrument store.
In fact, a MIDI controller can be just about anything that you can imagine. Creative musicians
have come up with interesting MIDI controllers,
including body suits that allow you to tap on or
move your body to trigger sounds.
You, too, can make your own MIDI controller. All
you need is a little imagination and some basic
building and electronics skills. For example, one
of my first electronic drumsets consisted of
kitchen pots and pans fitted with electric pickups routed to a Roland Octapad. This setup was
easy to make. First, I attached a piezoelectric
pickup (which cost about $1 from an electrical
supply company) to the inside of a pan with silicon caulk. Then I connected the wires from the
pickup to a cord with a quarter-inch TS plug on
the end. I plugged the cord into the Octapad,
and when I hit the bottom of the pan, the
Octapad sent a MIDI message to my sampler.
You can attach these simple $1 piezoelectric
pickups to just about anything and trigger a
sound source. (You may need a device, such as
the Roland Octapad or other electronic drumset
module, to convert the signal from the piezo
pickup into MIDI messages.)
Countless soft-synth plug-ins are available for Pro Tools. Check out the
Digidesign compatibility page for programs that will work with the software
(www.digidesign.com/compato).
Sound cards
Most sound cards that you can put in your computer (or that come with a
computer) have General MIDI sounds in them. Depending on the quality of
your sound card, it may sound decent or border on unbearable.
To find out whether the GM sounds in your computer’s sound card are any
good, go ahead and play a MIDI file on your computer. First, do a search on
the Internet for MIDI files (just type MIDI into your favorite search engine).
Some sites require you to pay to download a song — especially for popular
or familiar tunes — but you can find many sites that allow you to choose a
song to listen to without downloading or paying a fee. Click a song, and it’ll
start playing automatically. You’ll immediately know whether you like the
sound of your sound card.
If you bought a new sound card for your computer to record audio with,
you’ll generally find that the sounds are pretty good. And (happily) with
your audio program, you also have access to soft-synth patches.
Getting Started with MIDI
85
MIDI controllers
When MIDI first came out, your controller choice was limited to a keyboard,
but now you can choose between keyboards, wind controllers (for saxophones or other wind instruments), guitars, or drums. So even if you don’t
play piano, you can find a controller that resembles an instrument you know
how to play. Look around, and you may find one (or more) MIDI controllers
that allow you to create music your way.
Sequencers
Although you can get standalone sequencers and sequencers integrated into
a synthesizer, you probably want to just use the sequencer in Pro Tools for
this. The reasons for this are many, but the overriding factor is that you can
have your MIDI and audio tracks in one place, and Pro Tools offers you more
powerful editing capabilities than a sequencer that’s contained in a box and
that uses a tiny LCD screen.
MIDI interfaces
The MIDI interface allows you to send and receive MIDI information from a
computer. All Digidesign interfaces — with the exception of the Mbox — have
a MIDI port. If you end up doing a lot of MIDI sequencing, though, and use
more than one sound module or external controller — or if you have the
Mbox — you need a separate MIDI interface, such as the one shown in
Figure 4-6.
MIDI interfaces come in a staggering variety of configurations, so you have
several things to consider when you buy a MIDI interface. Use the following
questions to help you to determine your needs:
✦ What type of computer do you own? MIDI interfaces are configured to
connect to a serial, parallel, or USB port. You determine which one to
use by the type of port(s) you have in your computer. For example, new
Macs have only a USB port although you can add a serial port if you
remove the internal modem. A PC has either a parallel port or a USB
port (sometimes both). PCs also have a joystick port, which accepts a
special MIDI joystick cable; no MIDI interface is needed.
MIDI and Electronic
Instruments
A MIDI controller is essentially what its name describes: a device that can
control another MIDI device. MIDI controllers come in many different formats. In fact, a MIDI controller can be anything from a synthesizer to a drum
machine, or from a computer to a xylophone.
Book I
Chapter 4
86
Getting Started with MIDI
OUT-B
Figure 4-6:
A MIDI
interface is
necessary if
you want to
connect
your
instrument
to a
computer.
IN-B
OUT-A
USB
IN-A
✦ How many instruments do you intend to connect? MIDI interfaces
come with a variety of input and output configurations. There are
models with two In and two Out, four In and four Out, and even eight In
and eight Out. There are also “thru” boxes that have one or more inputs
and several outputs. If you have only one or two instruments, you can
get by with a smaller interface. In this case, a 2 x 2 interface — two In
and two Out — would work great. If you have many instruments that you
want to connect, you need a larger box.
Chapter 5: Understanding
Microphones
In This Chapter
Looking at the various types of microphones
Positioning microphones for the best sound
Exploring a variety of preamps
Taking care of your microphones
A
microphone’s job is generally to try to capture, as closely as possible,
the sound of an instrument. You can also use a microphone to infuse a
specific sound characteristic into a performance. Likewise, a preamp —
which boosts the signal of a microphone as it travels to the recorder — can
be used to accurately represent a sound or to add texture and dimension to
it. The fact is that microphones and preamps are the center of the sound
engineer’s palette. Just like a painter has his paints and brushes, you have
your microphones and preamps. And just like a painter can create a stunning variety of visual textures with his tools, you, too, can make your creative statement with the judicious use of these two pieces of equipment.
In this chapter, you explore the two most versatile tools of your auditory
craft. You look at the various types of microphones and preamps, and you
gain an understanding of each one’s role in capturing a performance. You
also discover what types of mics and preamps work for particular situations. To top it off, this chapter guides you through purchasing and caring
for your precious new friends (mics and preamps, that is). You can find out
how to use your mics in Book III, Chapter 2, where I discuss specific mic
placement options.
Meeting the Many Microphone Types
When you start looking at microphones, you’ll find basically three different
types of construction methods (condenser, dynamic, ribbon) and three
basic polarity patterns (omnidirectional, figure-8, and cardioid). The following sections explore these various constructions and patterns and helps you
make sense of them.
88
Meeting the Many Microphone Types
Construction types
Whether a microphone is a $10 cheapie that has a cord permanently
attached to it or a $15,000 pro model with gold-plated fittings, all microphones convert sound waves to electrical impulses that the preamp or mixer
can read and the recorder can store. Each of the three main construction
types captures this auditory signal in a different way, and as such, each adds
certain characteristics to the sound. Here’s how the different mics affect
sound:
✦ Condenser: Tends to have a well-rounded frequency response
✦ Ribbon: Adds silkiness to the recorded sound because it rolls off the
higher frequencies slightly
✦ Dynamic: Tends to accent the middle of the frequency spectrum
I detail these aspects in the following sections. In most cases, the type of
construction dictates the general cost category in which the mics fit.
Condenser microphones
A condenser microphone is, without a doubt, the most popular style of
microphone used in recording studios (home or commercial). Condenser
mics are sensitive and accurate, but they can also be expensive. Recently,
however, condenser mics have come down in cost, and you can buy a decent
one for less than $100. Very good ones start at about $500.
Condenser microphones have an extremely thin metal (or metal-coated plastic or Mylar) diaphragm (the part that senses the signal). The diaphragm is
suspended in front of a metal plate (a backplate). Polarizing voltage is
applied to both the diaphragm and the backplate, creating a static charge in
the space between them. When the diaphragm picks up a sound, it vibrates
into the field between it and the backplate. This produces a small signal that
can then be amplified. Figure 5-1 shows how a condenser mic is constructed.
Condenser mics need a small amount of voltage (between 9 and 48 volts; V)
to function. If you use a condenser mic, make sure that it has its own internal
battery or that you have a preamp or mixer equipped with phantom power.
(Not sure what phantom power means? You’re in luck. The next section will
enlighten you.)
Phantom power
Phantom power is the small amount of voltage applied to run a condenser
microphone properly. In most cases, phantom power comes from your mixer
or preamp and is sent to the microphone through one of the wires in an XLR
cable. (I cover XLR cables in Chapter 3 of this mini-book.) Some condenser
mics have an internal battery or separate power supply that provides this
power.
Meeting the Many Microphone Types
89
Book I
Chapter 5
Diaphragm
Output
A switch, which is usually located on the preamp or mixer, enables you to
turn the phantom power off and on. Even though dynamic microphones
don’t use phantom power, this small amount of voltage doesn’t damage
them.
Tube or solid state
Condenser mics can be made with transistors (solid-state mics) or vacuum
tubes (tube mics). Like with all gear that offers a choice between tube and
solid state, base your decision on the sound characteristics that you prefer.
For the most part, tube condenser mics have a softer high end (although not
necessarily less high end) and a warmer overall tone. Solid-state mics, on
the other hand, are often more transparent: They capture the sound with less
coloration, sometimes with a bit greater clarity.
Large- or small-diaphragm
Condenser mics come in two broad categories: small diaphragm and large
diaphragm (see Figure 5-2). Large-diaphragm condenser mics are more popular than their small-diaphragm counterparts; they offer a more pronounced
bottom end (low frequencies). Large-diaphragm mics also make less self
noise, which is electronic noise created by the microphone.
Before you go out and buy only large-diaphragm mics, consider this: Smalldiaphragm condenser mics often have an even frequency response and can
more accurately capture instruments with a pronounced high-frequency
component (violins, for instance).
Understanding
Microphones
Figure 5-1:
A
condenser
mic consists
of a very
thin
diaphragm
suspended
parallel to a
backplate.
Backplate
90
Meeting the Many Microphone Types
Figure 5-2:
Condenser
mics can
have either
small or
large
diaphragms.
Dynamic microphones
Chances are you’ve had a chance to use a dynamic mic. Two hugely popular
Shure models characterize this type of mic — the SM57 and the SM58, which
has a silvery ball of gridded wire at one end and an XLR connector at the
other. Dynamic microphones have several qualities that make them unique.
First, they can handle a lot of volume (technically known as SPL, or Sound
Pressure Level), which makes them perfect for extremely loud signals, such
as drums, amplifiers, and some rock vocals. Dynamic mics are not as transparent as condenser mics (they don’t represent high frequencies as accurately), so they often impart a “dirty” or “gritty” sound to the signal.
The dynamic microphone uses a magnetic field to convert the sound
impulse from the diaphragm into electrical energy (as illustrated in
Figure 5-3). The diaphragm, often made of plastic or Mylar, is located in front
of a coil of wire called a voice coil. The voice coil is suspended between two
magnets. When the diaphragm moves (the result of a sound), the voice coil
moves as well. The interaction between the voice coil’s movement and the
magnets creates the electrical signal.
Meeting the Many Microphone Types
91
Voice coil
Diaphragm
Figure 5-3:
Dynamic
mics pick up
a signal by
using a
magnetic
field and a
voice coil.
Magnets
Output
Ribbon microphones
A ribbon microphone produces its sound in much the same way as a
dynamic mic. The diaphragm is suspended between two magnets. Ribbon
mics use a thin ribbon of aluminum (see Figure 5-4) instead of the plastic or
Mylar you’d find in a dynamic mic. Although ribbon mics were very popular
from around the 1930s to the 1960s, they’ve mostly taken a backseat to condenser mics in today’s studios. This is mainly because they are known to be
fragile and expensive, and aren’t as transparent as condenser mics. In fact, a
gust of wind or a strong breath into the diaphragm is all it takes to break a
ribbon mic.
Ribbon mics are experiencing a renaissance because a lot of recording engineers are searching for a vintage sound. Ribbon mics have a unique sound
that is often described as silky or smooth. This essentially means that the
high frequencies tend to roll off (gradually reduce) slightly, and the lower frequencies smear together a bit.
Until very recently, ribbon mics were fairly expensive. You’d have been hard
pressed to find a new one for much less than $1,000. Nowadays, you can find
some for just a few hundred dollars.
Book I
Chapter 5
Understanding
Microphones
The sound of a dynamic mic can be described as somewhat boxy, meaning
that these mics don’t represent the highest or lowest frequencies of your
hearing spectrum accurately (not necessarily a bad thing). They are also
durable. Rough treatment probably won’t damage them much (aside from
the diaphragm, which a tough metal screen protects). Dynamic mics are the
type used most often for live shows. They tend to be inexpensive to buy and
easy to maintain; you can get a good dynamic mic for around $100.
92
Meeting the Many Microphone Types
Ribbon
Magnet
Ribbon
Output
Figure 5-4:
Ribbon mics
use a ribbon
suspended
between
two magnets to
create their
signals.
Polarity patterns
Microphones pick up sounds in different ways, which are known as polarity
patterns. Here’s how the various patterns work:
✦ Omnidirectional mics can capture sounds all around them.
✦ Cardioid (or directional) mics pick up sounds just in front of them.
✦ Figure-8 (or bidirectional) mics pick up sounds from both the front and
back.
Omnidirectional
An omnidirectional mic can pick up sounds coming from anywhere around
it. Omnidirectional mics are useful for situations where you want to capture
not only the source sound, but also the sound of the room it’s coming from.
You can find omnidirectional mics used in stereo pairs, suspended over
Meeting the Many Microphone Types
93
drumsets to capture the whole sound of the kit, or used overhead to pick
up groups of acoustic instruments (such as orchestras).
Cardioid
Cardioid microphones pick up the sound in front of them and reject any
sounds that come from behind. Cardioid mics are the most common for live
bands because you can control the sound that they pick up. If you have a cardioid mic on the tom-tom of a drumset, for example, the mic picks up only the
sound of that drum and not the sound from the other instruments around it.
Front
0°
330°
30°
−10dB
300°
60°
−20dB
270°
90°
240°
Figure 5-5:
An omnidirectional
mic picks up
sounds from
all around it.
120°
210°
150°
180°
Back
Understanding
Microphones
Omnidirectional mics are not generally used for close miking — placing the
mic less than a foot from the sound source — because they tend to catch too
much background noise. You can see the pick-up pattern of an omnidirectional mic in Figure 5-5. The round pattern shows that the mic picks up
sound from all directions.
Book I
Chapter 5
94
Meeting the Many Microphone Types
The three types of cardioid microphones are cardioid, super-cardioid, and
hyper-cardioid. The differences among the types of cardioid patterns of each
mic aren’t that great. Check out the graphs in Figure 5-6 to see how the
polarity patterns of cardioid microphones differ.
Generally, you don’t need to think about the minor polarity-pattern differences among the types of cardioid mics when you buy or use a microphone.
You won’t notice the practical differences in the way these three types of
mics work.
Front
0°
Front
0°
Figure 5-6:
The three
types of
cardioid
mics have
similar
polarity
patterns.
330°
−10dB
−10dB
300°
330°
30°
60°
−10dB
−10dB
300°
−20dB
−20dB
90°
240°
120°
150°
180°
Back
330°
60°
300°
90°
240°
120°
150°
180°
Back
60°
−20dB
−20dB
270°
210°
30°
−10dB
−10dB
−20dB
−20dB
270°
210°
Front
0°
30°
270°
90°
240°
120°
210°
150°
180°
Back
Figure-8
Figure-8 mics (also called bidirectional) pick up sound from both the front
and back, but not all the way around. If you take a look at the graph in
Figure 5-7, you can see that sound is not effectively picked up from areas
on either side of the microphone.
Figure-8 mics are often used to record two instruments simultaneously. For
example, you can place the microphone between two horn players with the
side of the mic perpendicular to the players. This allows you to capture both
instruments while eliminating any sound in front of the musicians.
Most figure-8 condenser mics have the same frequency response for both
the front and back sides, but some ribbon mics produce very different
responses that depend on whether the sound is coming from the front or the
back. For instance, a Royer r121 ribbon mic picks up more high frequencies
from behind the mic than from in front. You can use this to your advantage
when recording an instrument. If the sound is too rich in low frequencies,
just turn the mic around a little — or a lot, depending on how much of the
high frequencies you want to add. (More on this in Book III, Chapter 2.)
Meeting the Many Microphone Types
95
Book I
Chapter 5
Front
0°
Understanding
Microphones
330°
30°
−10dB
300°
60°
−20dB
270°
Figure 5-7:
Figure-8
microphones pick
up sound
from both
front and
back, but
not the
sides.
90°
240°
120°
210°
150°
180°
Back
Multiple-pattern mics
Some condenser microphones can change their pick-up patterns. You can
choose from cardioid, omni, or figure-8 (as in Figure 5-8). These mics (generally, large diaphragm) can do this trick because they usually contain two
sets of diaphragms and backplates, positioned back to back. You might want
to have at least one multiple-pattern mic around to give you more variety in
microphone positions.
The omni pattern in a multiple-pattern microphone works (and sounds) differently from a true omnidirectional mic. For critical applications (recording
an orchestra, for instance), you might find that a multiple-pattern mic is not
a fair substitute for an exclusively omnidirectional mic.
96
Buying the Right Microphone for You
Figure 5-8:
Some mics
have a
switch that
allows you
to change
polarity
patterns.
Buying the Right Microphone for You
Buying microphones is, without a doubt, one of the most critical decisions
that you’ll make when setting up your home studio. Using the right microphone for the job can mean the difference between an okay track and a truly
spectacular one.
As recently as just a few years ago, your choice in microphones was between
inexpensive dynamic mics (what most home recordists could afford) and
expensive condenser or ribbon mics (what the pro studios had). But, as luck
would have it, you’ve entered a time in home recording where your options
are much more diverse. In fact, a whole line of project-studio mics has
recently emerged. This is a new market that manufacturers have found to be
hugely profitable, so the choices are expanding almost daily. In some cases,
a $400 project-studio mic can rival a $2,000-plus pro mic — at least for the
home recordist’s purposes.
So the question that you’re inevitably going to ask is, “What microphones
should I get for my home studio?” Good question. And the answer is, “Well, it
depends on what you need.” So before I go into detail about what mics might
Buying the Right Microphone for You
97
be best for you, try to spend a minute assessing your needs. These questions might help you figure out your needs:
✦ What instruments will I record? Loud amps, drums, and screaming
singers beg to be recorded with dynamic mics, whereas light percussion,
vocals, and stand-up basses shine through with large-diaphragm condenser mics.
✦ How many mics will I use at once? If you need to record your whole
band at once, budget constraints might dictate your choice between
dynamic and condenser mics or a condenser or ribbon mic for vocals. If
you need only a couple of mics to record the occasional vocal or instrument, you can invest more in each mic.
How many, what kind
You will likely build your microphone collection over time rather than
buying all your mics at once. This is the best way to buy mics because it
gives you time to develop an understanding of what you can do with the
microphone that you have before you plunk down your money for another.
You’re better off having a few mics that best fit your situation rather than a
whole bunch of mics that just sorta work for you.
If you’re like most people, your budget dictates how many mics you can buy
and what kind they might be. In this section, I try to help you get the best
mics for your recording needs and guide you through the process of slowly
accumulating microphones.
Before you go out and buy a ton of mics, know this: Many digital systems
have an effect called a mic simulator — a program that allows you to use a
relatively inexpensive mic and get the sound of a much more expensive one.
If your system has a mic simulator program (you can find out by searching
through your system’s effects patches), I recommend getting a basic dynamic
mic first. You might find that you like how the mic simulator sounds and discover that you don’t need as many mics as you thought.
Getting started
A basic mic setup consists of a couple of dynamic mics for drums, guitar
amps, or other loud instruments; and a decent condenser mic for vocals or
other acoustic instruments. You can buy a good, sturdy all-around dynamic
mic for under $100; a lower-end (but nice-sounding) condenser mic costs
around $200.
Understanding
Microphones
✦ What type of music will I record? If you play rock or pop music, you
probably want to start with dynamic mics because they’re inexpensive
and because their limitations in high or low frequencies don’t matter as
much as they would if you want to record your string quartet. In this
case, a pair of condenser mics would do the trick.
Book I
Chapter 5
98
Buying the Right Microphone for You
For most home recordists, a large-diaphragm condenser mic is the first condenser mic. These are good all-around mics that can work well for a lot of
applications.
Movin’ on
After you have your basic mics, you can start to add a few more. If you
intend to record your band, you need to at least mic the drumset. (Four
mics will get you around the set.) In this case, you can add a couple more
dynamic mics and start thinking about getting one or two that are designed
for particular applications. For instance, you can find mics on the market
that are made to work best on the kick drum of a drumset.
At this point, you can also get a second condenser mic — maybe a smalldiaphragm condenser mic this time or a large-diaphragm tube condenser.
You might want to choose one that sounds different from the one you
already have — or, if you love the one you have, you can get a second one
just like it so you have a stereo pair.
Going all out
As your mic collection grows, you’ll probably start looking for a vocal mic
that works best for your voice. In this case, you might consider largediaphragm tube condenser mics or even a ribbon mic.
After this, your next step might be to buy a stereo pair of omnidirectional
mics for drum overheads (mics placed over the drum set) or other multiinstrument applications.
Detailing applications
Certain mics work better than others for particular situations. In this section, I try to present some typical applications to give you an idea of what
types of mics are traditionally used for various purposes. (You can find more
ideas about mic usage in Book III, Chapter 2, where I discuss specific miking
techniques.)
When you consider a mic, think about the frequency spectrum of the instrument(s) you’re recording. If you use a dynamic mic for a symphonic orchestra performance, for example, you’ll be disappointed by the results because
it lacks an accurate high-frequency response. On the other hand, using a
small-diaphragm condenser mic on the tom-toms of a drum set makes them
sound thin and is a waste of money because you can get by with a much less
expensive dynamic mic for this purpose.
Buying the Right Microphone for You
99
✦ Vocals: Most people prefer the sound of a large-diaphragm condenser
mic for vocals. If you have the budget, you might also want to audition
some ribbon mics for your voice. A dynamic mic is best when you’re
going for a dirty or raw sound (excellent for some harder rock, blues, or
punk music) or if your singer insists on screaming into the mic. A smalldiaphragm condenser mic, rarely the first choice for most singers, isn’t
out of the question for some female vocalists if you don’t mind a bright,
present sound (reduced low-frequency content).
✦ Electric guitar amp: A dynamic mic or a small-diaphragm condenser
works well on an electric guitar amp. Some people use large-diaphragm
condenser mics on guitar amps and like the added low frequencies that
can result.
✦ Electric bass amp: Your first choice when miking an amplified electric
bass is either a large-diaphragm condenser mic or a dynamic mic. Either
one can capture the frequency spectrum that the bass guitar encompasses. Small-diaphragm condenser mics aren’t a good choice because
of their inherent high frequency focus.
✦ Acoustic guitar and other stringed instruments: A large- or smalldiaphragm condenser mic or a ribbon mic works well in most instances.
A dynamic mic has too limited of a frequency response to create a natural sound but might create an effect that you like. Choose the large- or
small-diaphragm based upon the overall frequency spectrum of the
instrument. For example, if you want to capture the depth of a guitar’s
tone, choose a large-diaphragm mic. For an instrument with a higher register, such as a violin or mandolin, a small-diaphragm mic works great.
✦ Drumset: Tom-toms, snare drums, and kick (bass) drums all sound good
with dynamic mics because they don’t put out any high frequencies. You
can also use large-diaphragm condenser mics, but be careful where you
place them because if your drummer hits them, they’re toast.
✦ Cymbals: For the cymbals of a drum set, a pair of small-diaphragm condenser mics works well although some people prefer to use largediaphragm mics instead. Many old-timers are using ribbon mics on
cymbals when they record digitally to give the cymbals a softer sound. A
dynamic mic would lack the high-frequency response needed to make
the cymbals shine through in a mix.
✦ Miscellaneous percussion: Now, here’s a broad category. By miscellaneous, I mean shakers, triangles, maracas, and other higher-pitched percussion toys. For these instruments, you’ll find that either small- or
Book I
Chapter 5
Understanding
Microphones
Microphone choice is fairly subjective. The following list contains some
basic suggestions, based on what’s typically used in the recording industry.
You might choose a different type of mic, especially if you try to create a certain effect. For instance, using a ribbon mic rather than a small-diaphragm
condenser mic on a metallic shaker softens the highest frequencies of the
instrument and gives it a mellower sound.
100
Buying the Right Microphone for You
large-diaphragm condenser mics work well. For a very quiet instrument,
such as a small shaker, a large-diaphragm mic is preferable because of
the higher self noise of the small-diaphragm mic.
If you intend to record loud instruments — drums, amplified guitars, or
basses — look for a mic with a high SPL (a rating of how much volume, in
decibels [dB], that the microphone can handle before distorting). A high SPL
is more than 130 dB.
Some professional condenser mics have a pad switch that allows you to
reduce the sensitivity of the mic, thereby increasing how well it can handle
high sound-pressure levels.
Partnering with preamps
One of the most important relationships in your home studio is the one
between your microphones and the preamp — the nice bit of hardware that
boosts the mic’s signal so it can be recorded. The greatest microphone in
the world is wasted if it’s run through a cheap preamp. By the same token, a
cheap mic plugged in to a great preamp sounds only as good as the bad mic.
Your Digidesign hardware comes with at least two preamps. (Book II,
Chapter 2 details each piece of hardware.) This might be enough for you, but
you might want a separate preamp for a different (better) sound or if you
need more inputs than your hardware provides.
For the most part, the preamps in the Digidesign hardware are more than
adequate until your engineering skills are way up there. I recommend using
them and spending your money on some decent mics first (unless, of course,
you need more preamps than those that come with your hardware).
You can find three types of preamps in the marketplace — solid-state,
vacuum tube, and hybrid — and each has its own characteristics. In the following sections, you get a chance to explore some preamp styles and discover how each relates to the sounds produced by the types of microphones
I discuss earlier in the chapter. This can help you start considering the relationship between the microphone and preamp in your studio.
Solid-state
Solid-state preamps use transistors to boost the level of the microphone.
Solid-state preamps can be designed to produce as clear and detailed (that
is, transparent) of a sound as possible or can be designed to create a pleasing
level of distortion (warmth) for your music. Solid-state preamps cost anywhere from a couple hundred to several thousand dollars.
Buying the Right Microphone for You
101
On the other hand, a more aggressive (warm or pleasingly distorted) solidstate preamp, such as those modeled after the classic Neve designs, can add
just a touch of “grit” to certain instruments. These types of preamps are
great with dynamic, ribbon, or condenser mics, especially when recording
drums, guitar, and some vocals.
Tube
Tube preamps use vacuum tubes to process and amplify the microphone’s
signal. This generally adds some coloration to the sound of your mic,
although how much and what kind of coloration depends on the particular
preamp. As you’ve undoubtedly discovered after reading any other chapter
in this book, digital recording aficionados love the sound of tube gear, especially tube preamps. The advantage with a tube preamp is that it can add a
nice warm sound to your mics. The disadvantage is that you often can’t get
rid of this colored sound. Professional recording engineers often have several tube preamps in their studios to give them different coloration options.
The preamps included in your mixer are solid state. If you find that you want
the colored sound of a tube preamp, you have to buy an external one.
Tube preamps are great for imparting a subtle low-frequency addition to the
sound of the microphone signal. Tube preamps also seem to soften the
higher frequencies slightly. If you’re like most people, you’ll find the addition
of a tube preamp to be welcome, especially if you intend to record rock,
blues, or acoustic jazz music. The downside is that all-tube preamps are
expensive, with the least expensive costing about $1,000 (the Peavey VMP-2:
a nice-sounding preamp that you’ll have to find on the used market) and
most running several thousand dollars (for brands such as Manley Labs).
I prefer to use tube preamps with drums and any “woody” instrument
(acoustic guitar, for instance). In this case, I often find myself reaching for a
large-diaphragm condenser mic. And, in extreme cases, I might even use a
large-diaphragm tube condenser mic with the tube preamp (for an extra
dose of “tubiness”).
Book I
Chapter 5
Understanding
Microphones
A good clean, clear, solid-state preamp (such as those from Earthworks or
George Massenburg Labs) is a great choice if you want as natural of a sound
as possible on your recording of an instrument or if you’re using a microphone that has a sound quality that you want to hear as clearly as possible.
For example, I particularly like how a solid-state preamp works in conjunction with a tube condenser or ribbon mic. The warmth and smoothness of
these types of microphones shines through clearly with a clean solid-state
preamp.
102
Buying the Right Microphone for You
Hybrid
A hybrid preamp contains both solid-state and tube components to boost the
mic’s signal. Most of the inexpensive (less than $1,000) tube preamps that
you find in the marketplace are actually hybrids. An advantage to this design
approach is that the preamp can often be adjusted to give you varying
degrees of that warm tube sound. The disadvantage is that these relatively
inexpensive tube preamps won’t have as clear a sound as a great solid-state
preamp, and they won’t have quite the same pleasing character as an expensive all-tube preamp.
For most home recordists, this type of preamp offers a lot of flexibility and
can allow you to get either a fairly clear, open sound of a solid-state preamp
or a warm, colored sound characteristic of a classic tube preamp. If you can
afford only one external preamp, you might find a great solution in one of
these hybrid versions.
The countless hybrid preamps on the market vary widely. (In fact, most
of the hybrid preamps are actually marketed as tube preamps.) Your best
bet in choosing a hybrid (or any preamp, for that matter) is to do some
research. Talk to people, read reviews, visit Internet forums, and then audition the two or three that stand out to you. Choose the one that you think
sounds best for your needs.
Considering compressors
You use a compressor to alter the dynamic range of an instrument. Along
with the microphone and preamp, a compressor is often added to the signal
chain before it goes to the mixer. The advantage of using a compressor in the
signal chain before it hits the mixer is that you can control the transients of
an instrument so it doesn’t overload your converters and create digital
distortion.
The compressor plug-ins in Pro Tools are of no use to you if you want to control the transients of an instrument because they are located after the converters. If you don’t want to use (or can’t afford) an external compressor,
keep your input level down a bit when you record. (Book III, Chapter 3
covers setting levels in detail.)
If you record a lot of vocals or real drums, consider using a decent external
compressor. You can find some great-sounding compressors for as little as
$200. (Check out my Web site at www.jeffstrong.com for some great
bang-for-your-buck compressor finds.)
Buying the Right Microphone for You
103
Preamp, compressor, and equalizer combos
Analyzing some microphone accessories
Along with your new mics, you’re going to need a few accessories. These
include mic cords, stands, and pop filters.
Microphone cords
Microphone cords can cost anywhere from about $10 to several hundred
dollars. You’re probably asking yourself, “Is there really a difference between
a $10 or $20 mic cable and one that sells for hundreds of dollars?”
My answer is, “Supposedly, but chances are, you’ll never hear it.” Let me
qualify this answer a little. Unless you have very good microphones, preamps, A/D (analog-to-digital) and D/A (digital-to-analog) converters, mixer,
recorder, and monitors, you’re wasting your money on expensive microphone cords. I know only one sound engineer (not me, though — I’ve spent
too many years behind the drums) who claims that he can actually hear the
difference between an average mic cord and one of the expensive ones. And
he says that the difference is very subtle. (It would have to be; otherwise, I’d
hear the difference, too.)
Don’t waste your money on an expensive mic cord (or any cord) until you’ve
got such kickin’ equipment that the cord is the weakest link in your signal
chain. By then, spending a couple hundred dollars on a cord will seem like
pennies because you’ll already have invested tens of thousands of dollars in
top-quality gear.
Stands
A sturdy stand is essential if you intend to mic anything in your studio.
Studio mics can get a bit cumbersome, and decent mic stands are relatively
inexpensive, so try to resist the temptation to buy a flimsy stand. A good mic
stand has a sturdy base and can securely hold your mics.
Good mic stands cost about $30 and have either a round, cast-iron base
(great for getting into tight spaces) or a tripod base (superior stability).
Either one works well. Check out Figure 5-9 to see these two types of stands.
Understanding
Microphones
As long as you’re looking at preamps and compressors, take a look at channelstrip devices — combos that integrate preamp, compressor, and equalizer.
For some people (maybe you), a channel-strip device is the way to go. Using
just one unit cuts down on the number of cords, and it’s designed to make
the three parts function well together. Quite a few great-sounding channelstrip devices are available for less than $500.
Book I
Chapter 5
104
Caring for Your Microphones
Figure 5-9:
A sturdy mic
stand has
either a cast
iron or a
tripod base.
Pop filters
A pop filter is a nylon screen that is used to eliminate the “pops” (technically
called plosives) that singers make when they sing. Plosives are the result of
sudden bursts of air projected into the mic (from singing words starting with
Ps and Ts, for example). If you record vocals, a pop filter is a must-have.
Pop filters are relatively inexpensive, but if you want to make your own, you
can with a pair of tights or pantyhose and a coat hanger. Bend the coat
hanger into a circle and stretch the nylons or pantyhose over it. You can
attach the coat hanger to the mic stand with duct tape. Adjust it so the pop
filter is about four to six inches away from the microphone and have the
singer sing through it. Check out Figure 5-10 for a look at a homemade pop
filter.
Caring for Your Microphones
After investing hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars in microphones, you
probably want to know how to take care of them properly. Caring for or storing your microphones isn’t rocket science. Just follow the general guidelines
and ideas that follow, and you’ll keep your mics in tip-top shape.
Caring for Your Microphones
105
Book I
Chapter 5
Understanding
Microphones
Figure 5-10:
You can
make a pop
filter from a
coat hanger
and a pair of
tights.
A good microphone lasts a lifetime. Take care of your mics, and they’ll offer
you years of service.
Daily care for your mics
Probably the most important thing to keep in mind when using your mics
is to resist the temptation to blow into them. I know you’ve probably seen
the doof on stage blow into a mic and yell, “Test! Is this thing on?” to see
whether it’s working. And some folks figure that’s how the pros must check
their mics. Well, it isn’t. Blowing into a mic is one of the worst ways to test
it — and for some sensitive models (like those expensive ribbon mics), it’s a
sure way to literally blow the diaphragm. If you want to check to see
whether a mic is working, just speak into it in a normal voice.
Never blow or yell into any mic unless your singer’s style is to yell into the
mic and you’re trying to set the input level. In this case, offer him your trusty
dynamic mic and keep that expensive ribbon mic hidden.
106
Caring for Your Microphones
Another thing to keep in mind when handling your mics is that they can be
fragile. Condenser and ribbon mics don’t survive rough handling well. In
fact, if you drop a condenser or ribbon mic, you might just break it. (This is
why you need a sturdy stand.) Dynamic mics, on the other hand, are more
durable, which is why they are often used for live applications and on drums
(where it’s not uncommon for an overzealous drummer to whack them by
accident — as a drummer, I know about this firsthand).
Keep your mics away from dust and high humidity. Dust is probably the
number-one enemy of a microphone; it can settle on the diaphragm and
lessen the sensitivity of the mic — even alter its frequency response. Always
cover your mics or put them away when you’re not using them.
Storing your mics
Most professionals have mic lockers where they can safely keep the mics
that aren’t in use. Mic lockers come in different forms. You can make a special locked box fitted with foam padding that has a cutout for each mic, or
you can keep your mics in their pouches or cases (if they came with them)
in a closet or cabinet.
Regardless of the type of storage cabinet you have, try to handle your mics as
little as possible. In fact, if you have a mic that you use a lot, you’re often
better off leaving it on a secure stand between sessions instead of dragging it
in and out of its case or storage cabinet.
If you do leave your mic out on its stand when it’s not in use, cover it with a
plastic bag and close the open end around the mic. (See Figure 5-11.) This
keeps off the dust.
Humidity can also be a problem for microphones. If you live in a humid environment, store your mics with a bag of silica gel next to them. (Silica gel —
the stuff that comes in the packaging of a lot electronic gear — absorbs
moisture.) You can find silica gel listed as desiccant packets (Desi Pak) by the
manufacturer. You can order silica gel in quantities as little as ten from
Hydrosorbent Products
P.O. Box 437, 25 School Street
Ashley Falls, MA 01222
www.dehumidify.com/HydrosorbentDesi.htm
You can also do an Internet search with the term “Desi Pak.”
Caring for Your Microphones
107
Book I
Chapter 5
Understanding
Microphones
Figure 5-11:
Covering
your microphones with
a plastic
bag keeps
off the dust.
108
Book I: Home Recording Basics
Book II
Getting Started
Using Pro Tools
Contents at a Glance
Chapter 1: Configuring Your Computer ............................................................................111
Chapter 2: Setting Up Your Hardware ..............................................................................131
Chapter 3: Examining Software Basics..............................................................................159
Chapter 4: Understanding the Pro Tools Windows..........................................................177
Chapter 5: Importing and Exporting Files ........................................................................217
Chapter 1: Configuring
Your Computer
In This Chapter
Choosing hardware
Setting up a Mac
Configuring a PC
P
ro Tools works well on both Macs and PCs, so no matter which type of
computer you prefer, you can make good music without much hassle.
However, you need to do a few things to your computer — and certain hardware requirements you need to observe — to run Pro Tools successfully.
This chapter gets you up to speed on these areas. I walk you through setting
up and configuring your system and installing the software. As an added
attraction, I include some advice on how to keep the bugs at bay. (You know,
those nasty computer hiccups that can keep you from capturing your best
guitar solo — or, worse yet, losing it after the fact.)
Using Pro Tools on a Mac
Getting up and going on a Mac is easy. After you have a computer with the
right specs (which I cover in this section), it takes you less than 15 minutes
to be ready to plug in your hardware (covered in Chapter 2 of this minibook) and start recording (covered in Book III). This section takes you step
by step, turning your Mac into a lean, mean, audio recording machine.
Understanding Mac system requirements
One of the great things about Macintosh computers is that there aren’t a lot
of variables. Almost any Mac can record audio with Pro Tools. (Well, as long
as it meets the basic system requirements. See the following Remember
icon.) Here are a few things, however, that you need to know to record well.
These are covered in this section.
112
Using Pro Tools on a Mac
The best way to ensure that the computer you own or are considering
buying will work with Pro Tools and the Digidesign hardware that you want
is to go to the compatibility page on the Digidesign Web site at
www.digidesign.com/compato
Choose the hardware and operating system (OS) you use (or intend to use)
to see whether it will work with Pro Tools.
Because the people at Digidesign can’t test all possible hardware options,
you might also want to check out the Digidesign User Conference (DUC) for
any topics covering hardware issues. That Web page is http://duc.
digidesign.com. Look for the section dedicated to Pro Tools for Macs.
Knowing which Mac to buy
For the most part, almost any G4 or newer Mac will work, including a
PowerBook, a G4 with an Accelerated Graphics Port (AGP) graphics card,
and most G5s. (The newest ones often take a few weeks for Digidesign to add
to its list of compatible computers.) In addition, iMacs, iBooks, and Mac mini
might work, but always check out the compatibility documents for the
hardware and OS you intend to use (via the Digidesign Web site at www.
digidesign.com/compato).
The Digidesign interface you have dictates what type of computer you can
use. For example, if you have a Digi 001, you need a computer with an open
Peripheral Component Interface (PCI) slot. This eliminates everything
except the G4. The G5 is off the list, too, because it uses a PCI configuration
that’s incompatible with the Digi 001. The Digi 002 and 002 Rack both require
a FireWire port on the computer, which will work with just about all the
newer Macs. The Mbox uses a USB connection, so make sure that your computer of choice has at least one USB port; they all should.
Opting for a Mac operating system
You need at least Mac OS X version 10.3.9 (Panther) to run version 7 or
newer Pro Tools software. Some minor issues occurred with v. 10.4.9 when it
first came out, so you definitely want to check out the Digidesign compatibility page to see whether any issues are noted for the Mac OS you have.
I try to stay one version behind with all my software, especially the OS. I’ve
learned the hard way to wait until the bugs are worked out before upgrading.
One nice thing about Digidesign is that it constantly checks and approves
the newest hardware and OS versions so you don’t to do it yourself. So, I’d
stay with Tiger (10.4) for a while until Leopard (10.5) is firmly in the compatibility list.
Using Pro Tools on a Mac
113
Recognizing your RAM needs
Pro Tools requires at least 768MB of RAM for basic operation and at least
1.5GB of RAM if you run the DV Toolkit or Music Production Toolkit options,
but I say go for broke here. Get as much RAM as you can afford or as your
computer can handle. And don’t buy the cheap stuff — get high-quality RAM.
It’s worth checking out www.crucial.com to find the best RAM for your
system.
Getting a handle on hard drives
✦ Drive 1: This is the system drive. For your system drive, you can use the
stock drive that came with your computer. If you have a choice, though,
I recommend getting one with a spindle speed of 7,200 rpm. You’ll be
much happier, as will Pro Tools. And get a big one — hard drive, that is
(at least 120GB).
Even if you have other programs on your computer (such as finance or
word processing software), you don’t need to partition your drive. In
fact, doing so might slow down your system.
✦ Drive 2: This is the audio drive. It used to be that you needed a good,
high-speed SCSI drive to record and playback audio reliably, but this
isn’t the case anymore. You can use both IDE and FireWire drives for
storing audio. Just make sure that you have a drive with the following
(or better) specs:
• Spindle speed: Also called rotational speed, this is the rate at which
the hard drive spins. For the most part, a 7,200 rpm drive works well
for recording and playing back audio.
• Seek time: This is the amount of time that it takes the drive to find
the data that’s stored on it. You want an average seek time under 10
milliseconds (ms). Get as low as you can. (I prefer a seek time of 8
to 9 ms.)
• Buffer size: Often called a cache buffer, buffers are memory units that
store data while it’s being transferred. You want a buffer size of at
least 2MB, but get one as big as you can. I recommend a drive with
an 8MB buffer.
Book II
Chapter 1
Configuring Your
Computer
Pro Tools (and any other audio-recording software for that matter) likes to
have more than one hard drive. In fact, I’ll go as far as to say that Pro Tools
needs more than one hard drive to run properly. My advice? Get two drives:
one drive for all your system files and software, and the other for all your
audio and MIDI files. Here’s a look at how to organize them:
114
Using Pro Tools on a Mac
• Chipset: If you use a FireWire 800 drive, make sure that it comes with
at least the Oxford 911 bridge chipset. This is necessary to get the
most bandwidth from the drive and results in more tracks in your
session.
A drive with these specs in a good size (100GB or so) will run you about
$100, so you have no reason not to spring for the second drive.
Dealing with other software on your system
Not too long ago, installing any other software on the computer that you
intended to record audio into was asking for trouble. This isn’t a problem so
much anymore, but you still need to be careful not to stress your system by
putting too much junk on your computer. (Games come to mind.)
As an experiment, I had Pro Tools running while I had both my e-mail and
Internet browser program open and downloading files, as well as Photoshop
and MS Word running (talk about multitasking!) — and Pro Tools still ran
fine. I wouldn’t try to record or mix seriously with all this stuff going, but I
was able to work without my system crashing.
With that said, if you’re really serious about having a bulletproof system, try
to keep any extra software (such as games, finance, publishing, graphics,
and so on) off your audio computer. At the very least, keep all other applications closed while you work in Pro Tools.
Setting system settings
Before you install Pro Tools software, check to make sure that you have the
latest version of OS X. (Also check the Digidesign compatibility Web page to
make sure this version is supported.) Then follow these steps to prepare
your system for the software installation (these steps refer to version 10.4.9):
1. Log on to your computer by using an administration account.
Your OS X documentation will spell out this procedure for you.
2. Choose Ú➪System Preferences from the main menu, as shown in
Figure 1-1.
3. Under the Hardware Options, click the Energy Saver icon.
A new window opens.
4. On the Sleep tab, move the slider for Put the Computer to Sleep When
It Is Inactive For option over to Never, as shown in Figure 1-2.
Using Pro Tools on a Mac
115
Figure 1-1:
Find
Systems
Preferences
under the
Apple (Ú)
menu.
Book II
Chapter 1
Configuring Your
Computer
Figure 1-2:
Turn off
the sleep
function
for the
computer in
the Energy
Saver
window.
This keeps your computer from shutting down if you record a long song
because you don’t touch any keys while recording.
5. Leave the Put the Hard Disk to Sleep When Possible option unchecked.
This keeps your computer from going to sleep during long sessions.
6. Go back to the main Systems Preferences page by clicking the Show
All button in the upper-left corner of the window.
7. Choose Software Update from the System options at the bottom of the
page.
8. When the new window opens, deselect the Automatically Check for
Updates When You Have a Network Connection option, as shown in
Figure 1-3.
This keeps your system from dedicating resources to look for and download software updates when you’re working.
116
Using Pro Tools on a Mac
Figure 1-3:
Deselect the
Automatic
Software
Update
option
from the
Software
Update
window.
9. Close the window by clicking the red button in the upper-left corner
of the window.
Installing the program
After you complete the system setup requirements in the previous section,
you can install Pro Tools software by following these steps:
1. Insert the Pro Tools software CD in your computer’s CD drive.
2. In the new window that appears, double-click the Install Pro Tools
icon.
The OS X Administration window appears, asking you to enter your
password.
3. Enter your OS X Administration password and then click OK.
The Pro Tools installer opens.
4. Select the Startup hard drive as the destination drive.
The installation path is set.
5. Click Install.
Pro Tools installs on your computer. This might take a few minutes, so
sit back and contemplate the fun you’re going to have after it finishes
installing itself.
6. Restart your computer.
Wait to open the program until after you attach your hardware. The complete details for this procedure are located in Chapter 2 of this mini-book.
Using Pro Tools on a PC
117
Using Pro Tools on a PC
Getting set up with a PC is a little more complicated than it is with a Mac
simply because you have a lot more hardware variables to deal with. As long
as you keep the basic system requirements in mind, you can set yourself up
a very powerful system, often for less money than you’d shell out for a comparable Mac-based system. In this section, I cover some basic things to keep
in mind when you’re either purchasing or configuring a PC system for use
with Pro Tools.
Understanding PC system requirements
Again, the best source for the latest hardware compatibility information can
be found online at the Digidesign Web site at
www.digidesign.com/compato
or on the Digidesign User’s Conference (DUC) Web page at
http://duc.digidesign.com
At the DUC Web page, look for the section dedicated to Pro Tools LE for PCs.
At the top of that forum — Pro Tools LE Windows Systems: 003, 002, Mbox,
001 — you’ll find two very useful threads that contain a wealth of information about user-tested system configurations that are known to work well:
✦ Best Desktops for PTLE
✦ Best Laptops for PTLE
Picking a central processing unit (CPU)
A CPU is a small chip that’s responsible for processing all the data in your
computer. It’s essentially the computer’s brain. The two major CPU manufacturers in the PC world are Intel and AMD. Digidesign supports both, and
each can work fine as the core of your Pro Tools host computer. For Intel
systems, I recommend going with a Pentium 4 or the Core2Duo; for AMD systems, go with an Athlon 64.
Book II
Chapter 1
Configuring Your
Computer
Although the system requirements for PCs are similar to the basic ones for
Macs, you do have to deal with a ton more variables. Of these variables, central processing units (CPUs), motherboards, and graphics cards are probably the most confusing to people starting out. These components — as well
as the more basic stuff, such as hard drives and RAM — are covered in this
section so you can get up and running on a PC in no time.
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Using Pro Tools on a PC
Because Pro Tools is a host-based system, it relies on the processing power
of your computer’s CPU instead of hardware-processing cards (like the more
elaborate Pro Tools HD systems do). The number of plug-ins and amount of
mix automation you can use in a session is directly related to how powerful
(read: fast) your system is, so don’t skimp on CPU speed. The good news is
that the current higher-end processors are able to perform as well, if not
better than, the super-expensive Pro Tools HD systems.
Choosing a motherboard
A motherboard is the main circuit board in your computer, holding the CPU,
memory, and other peripheral cards. The motherboard you choose depends
on whether you run an Intel or AMD CPU. (See the previous section for more
on both brands.) Each CPU type has its own motherboard requirements, and
many choices are available for each, with new motherboards being released
all the time. I have had good results over the years with Asus brand motherboards, but other brands can also work well.
When you select a motherboard for use with Pro Tools, your main concern is
that it
✦ Supports the CPU you plan on using
✦ Has a compatible chipset
Be sure to check out the compatibility site before you buy a motherboard.
Grabbing a graphics card
Pro Tools doesn’t make the same demands on your graphics card that
modern game software does. The main thing to consider is that the graphics
card you use is compatible with your motherboard. In most cases, this isn’t
an issue, but check it out anyway as a hedge against Murphy’s Law.
Pro Tools is not compatible with Northbridge (integrated) graphics controllers. You need a dedicated graphics controller. In a desktop computer,
this essentially means that you have a separate graphics card inserted into
either the AGP or PCI-E (PCI-Express) slot. (PCI and PCI-X cards are not supported in Pro Tools.)
When purchasing a laptop, you have the option to choose to upgrade from
an integrated graphics controller. Here how to find out whether your computer has an integrated graphics controller:
1. Choose Start➪Control Panel➪System.
2. On the System Properties dialog box that opens, click the
Hardware tab.
Using Pro Tools on a PC
119
3. On the Hardware tab, click the Device Manager button.
From the Device Manager window that opens, select Display Adapters
from the tree (see Figure 1-4).
Book II
Chapter 1
Configuring Your
Computer
Figure 1-4:
Checking
whether
your
computer
has an
integrated
graphics
controller.
Make sure that the display adapter doesn’t read Integrated. If it does,
you need to install a dedicated graphics controller or upgrade to a
newer computer. You can find out more about this by going to
www.digidesign.com/index.cfm?langid=100&navid=54&itenid=24903
Loading up on RAM
As far as RAM goes, Digidesign suggests using a minimum of 768MB unless
you’re using DV Toolkit or Music Production Toolkit options. In those cases,
you need at least 1GB of RAM. As I mention in earlier chapters, get a lot more
RAM — at least double the minimum amount. The other important thing to
remember when buying RAM for your PC is that you get the proper type of
RAM for your motherboard.
Don’t buy cheap RAM because it can cause problems with your system.
High-quality RAM is not much more expensive than the cheap stuff, so spend
the extra few bucks. You’ll thank me when your system doesn’t freeze on
you. As I mention in the earlier Mac section, I recommend checking out
www.crucial.com to find the best RAM for your system.
120
Using Pro Tools on a PC
Selecting hard drives
Hard drive requirements for a PC system are essentially the same as those
for Macs. Check out the “Getting a handle on hard drives” section earlier in
this chapter for the lowdown on buying hard drives for your system.
Opting for a Windows operating system
Windows XP (Home or Professional) is required for all the newer Digidesign
hardware (anything newer than the Digi 001). This includes the Mbox, 002,
and 003. As of this writing, Vista (the latest Microsoft OS) isn’t yet supported, but by the time you read this book, it will likely be pretty stable. At
the risk of belaboring a point, check the Digidesign compatibility page to see
what OSes are approved for your hardware and software version.
Preparing to install Pro Tools software
Before you can actually install your Pro Tools software, you need to get your
system configured for it. This section describes the procedures and helps
you make sure that your system will run trouble-free (at least as much as can
be expected).
Windows settings
Although it’s true for the most part that you can run Pro Tools just fine on a
standard Windows XP configuration, a few system adjustments will free up
system resources, allowing more of your computer system’s power available
for use by Pro Tools. This is important because Pro Tools is a native DAW
(Digital Audio Workstation) — one that relies solely on the host computer’s
processing power with no additional DSP (Digital Signal Processing) cards
for support. And some of these adjustments — such as enabling DMA (Direct
Memory Access) for all your IDE hard drives — are crucial for running Pro
Tools successfully. The sections that follow lay out the basic system settings
that I recommend.
Windows XP Classic mode
You can accomplish the same basic housekeeping and setup tasks in
Windows XP in many ways. Because I don’t know how your system is set up,
I lead you through the process from the start. The first thing you want to do
is set your system to Windows Classic mode. Here’s how:
1. Click Start and then choose Settings➪Control Panel.
The contents of the Control Panel folder appear on-screen.
2. Click the Display icon.
Or you can right-click an empty spot on the desktop and choose
Properties from the shortcut menu.
Using Pro Tools on a PC
121
3. Select the Themes tab. Then, from the Theme drop-down menu,
choose Windows Classic (see Figure 1-5).
4. Click the Apply button.
5. Select the Desktop tab. From the Background list box, select None.
Book II
Chapter 1
Configuring Your
Computer
Figure 1-5:
Choose
Windows
Classic from
the Themes
menu of
Display
Properties.
6. Click OK.
This procedure disables the active desktop in Windows, which frees some
valuable system resources.
Choosing Control Panel settings
Windows XP is remarkably stable, but for those rare times when it (or a program running under Windows) crashes, it generates an error report and asks
whether you want to send the report to Microsoft. This feature, called Error
Reporting, takes system resources to run. Because I’m sure that you’d rather
have those resources working hard to keep Pro Tools running smoothly, I
recommend that you disable Error Reporting. Here’s the drill:
1. Click Start and choose Settings➪Control Panel from the Start menu
that appears.
2. Click the System icon.
3. Select the Advanced tab.
4. Click the Error Reporting button.
5. Select Disable Error Reporting.
122
Using Pro Tools on a PC
6. Click OK.
7. Leave the Control Panel window open. You have more settings to
adjust.
Standby power should be set to Always On for your Pro Tools system. To do
this, follow these steps:
1. Open the Control Panel if you closed it. (Click Start and choose
Settings➪Control Panel.)
2. Click the Power Options icon.
3. On the Power Schemes tab, choose the Always On option (as shown in
Figure 1-6).
Figure 1-6:
Make sure
to choose
Always On
from the
Power
Schemes
menu.
4. Click OK.
5. Leave the Control Panel open. You have more settings to adjust.
You also want to make sure that your screen doesn’t go to sleep and crash
your session. These steps show you how to do this:
1. Open the Control Panel if you closed it. (Click Start and choose
Settings➪Control Panel.)
2. Click the Display icon and then click the Screen Saver tab.
3. Choose None from the Screen Saver drop-down menu.
4. Click Apply.
Using Pro Tools on a PC
123
5. Click the Appearance tab.
6. Click Effects.
Make sure that none of the options listed in the dialog box are selected
with a check mark (as you can see in Figure 1-7). If any are, simply click
those pesky check marks so they disappear.
Book II
Chapter 1
Configuring Your
Computer
Figure 1-7:
Uncheck
(clear) all
the options
in the
Effects
dialog box.
7. Click OK.
8. Leave the Control Panel open; there’s still one more thing you have
to do.
Your System Sounds need to be disabled to prevent potential problems with
Pro Tools. To do this, follow these steps:
1. Open the Control Panel if you closed it. (Click Start and choose
Settings➪Control Panel.)
2. Click the Sounds and Audio Devices icon.
3. Click the Sounds tab.
4. From the Sound Scheme drop-down menu, choose No Sounds (see
Figure 1-8).
5. Click OK.
6. Close the Control Panel.
Congratulations! You just configured your system settings.
124
Using Pro Tools on a PC
Figure 1-8:
Choose No
Sounds on
the Sounds
tab.
Enabling DMA
All IDE hard drives on your system must have DMA enabled before Pro Tools
can effectively write and read data to and from your hard drives. To enable
DMA, do the following:
1. Right-click the My Computer icon on the Windows desktop.
2. From the contextual menu that appears, choose Properties to access
the System Properties dialog box.
3. Click the Hardware tab, and then click the Device Manager button.
4. In the Device Manager window, click IDE ATA/ATAPI controllers.
The Device Manager tree expands to show the controllers associated
with your system.
5. From the listing, double-click the Primary IDE controller and then
click the Advanced Settings tab.
If it doesn’t already read DMA If Available under the Transfer
Mode option, change it so it does (as shown in Figure 1-9). If you have
several disk drives on your system, you have to do the same for Device 0
and Device 1.
6. Click OK and repeat Step 5 for the Secondary IDE controller.
The Secondary IDE controller is in Device Manager, directly below the
Primary controller.
Using Pro Tools on a PC
125
Figure 1-9:
Transfer
Mode menu
should be
set to DMA
If Available.
Book II
Chapter 1
AutoPlay is a feature of Windows XP that automatically runs certain programs or plays music on a CD when you insert it into your computer’s CD
drive. This is a handy feature in everyday life, but it can cause problems with
the Pro Tools software. For the sake of Pro Tools, disable AutoPlay for all CD
drives on your system. Here’s the drill:
1. Click the My Computer icon on the Windows desktop.
The My Computer window duly appears.
2. In the My Computer window, right-click the icon for your CD drive.
3. From the contextual menu that appears, choose Properties to access
the Properties dialog box and then click the AutoPlay tab.
4. Choose Music Files from the Select Content Type menu.
5. At the bottom of the dialog box, select the Prompt Me Each Time to
Choose an Action radio button (see Figure 1-10).
6. Repeat Steps 4 and 5 with the Pictures, Video Files, Mixed Content,
Music CD, and Blank CD options for the Select Content Type dropdown menu.
7. Click OK.
8. Repeat Steps 1–7 for each CD or DVD drive on your computer.
Configuring Your
Computer
Disabling AutoPlay
126
Using Pro Tools on a PC
Figure 1-10:
Select the
Prompt Me
Each Time
to Choose
an Action
radio button.
Disabling virus protection
Virus protection is an important thing to have on any computer that connects to the Internet, but virus protection can also adversely affect Pro Tools
performance. Ideally, your Pro Tools host computer would be dedicated to
just running Pro Tools. However, many of you will be using an “all-purpose”
computer that you will use for many tasks, such as surfing the Web for business, pleasure, and/or for helping with your children’s homework.
In that case, you should turn off your virus protection whenever you run Pro
Tools. Check with the documentation that came with your virus-protection
software for the best way to do this. (And don’t forget to re-enable virus protection before you log on to the Internet again.)
I hate to repeat myself, but I will: If you’re really serious about having a bulletproof system, try to keep any extra software (such as games, finance, publishing, graphics, and so on) off your audio computer. At the very least, keep
all other applications closed while you work in Pro Tools.
After you make all these system adjustments listed earlier, you need to
reboot your computer.
Connecting your hardware
After you have your system fine-tuned (as described in the previous sections), you can now connect your hardware. Shut down your computer
and refer to Chapter 2 of this mini-book for the specifics on connecting
your Digidesign hardware. Each piece of hardware has its own installation
Using Pro Tools on a PC
127
procedure; I cover each one, step by step, in that chapter. After you have the
hardware connected, turn on your computer. Then, after the Windows desktop appears, turn on the power to your Digidesign hardware. (If you’re using
a product that doesn’t have a power switch, you can ignore this step.)
On Windows PCs, wait to install the program until after you attach your
hardware — and, if needed, power it on. The complete details for this procedure are located in Chapter 2 of this mini-book.
Installing the program
After you complete the Windows system-setup adjustments listed in the previous sections, you can install Pro Tools software by following these steps:
• For a 002 or 002 Rack: Connect the FireWire cable.
• For an Mbox: Use the USB connection.
• For an 001: Plug the PCI card into an open PCI slot and make the connection between the PCI card and the breakout box (the rest of the
001 system).
2. Start Windows.
The Windows desktop appears.
3. Turn on your Digidesign interface if it has a power switch.
If you’re using a bus-powered device — such as the Mbox 2 interfaces —
it’ll already be powered on when you plug it in.
4. Insert the Pro Tools software CD in your computer’s CD drive.
5. Click the My Computer icon on the Windows desktop.
The My Computer window appears.
6. In the My Computer window, click the icon for your CD drive.
The contents of the CD are displayed in a new window.
7. Open the Pro Tools Installer folder.
8. Click Setup.
9. After the Installer appears, click Next to continue.
10. Accept the Default paths for installation (they’re fine, and it’s less
hassle) and then click Next.
11. Wait for the installation to complete.
12. Restart your computer.
Configuring Your
Computer
1. Connect your Digidesign interface to your computer.
Book II
Chapter 1
128
Keeping Bugs at Bay: Good Habits to Get Into
Digidesign has included additional drivers that aren’t needed for use with
Pro Tools, but are included in case you’re using third-party programs and
want your Digidesign hardware to interface with them. Frankly, I don’t recommend installing these drivers unless you absolutely have to. Remember,
it’s best to keep a lean, mean DAW machine, and that means staying away
from any unnecessary drivers and programs. If you have to install these drivers for use with a third-party audio program (such as Sonar or Cubase), refer
to their manuals and the Digidesign documentation that came with your
hardware for instructions.
Keeping Bugs at Bay: Good Habits to Get Into
One thing is certain with computers: Hiccups will happen. Just when you
think everything is performing perfectly, something crashes your system.
Because these things are inevitable, I recommend that you work on developing some good habits to keep these minor problems from becoming disasters. In this section, I list a bunch of things that can help give you as
stress-free an experience recording on your computer as possible.
Back up your data often
There’s an old saying about computer data — If it doesn’t exist in at LEAST
two places, then it DOESN’T EXIST! Your hard drive can be considered one
such “location.” A lot of people also copy their data to a second hard drive
(either the system drive or a FireWire drive) — and removable media backups are also commonly used. This would include CD-R or DVD +/-R discs.
Regardless of the method you choose, the important thing is to back up your
data. Hard drives have become remarkably reliable, but as with anything
else, failures can and do happen. If your hard drive should fail (or if you accidentally delete something that you shouldn’t have), you’ll be very happy
you made copies of all your Pro Tools sessions to another storage device —
and (if you didn’t make copies) very sad to see your hard work disappear
forever right before your eyes.
On a PC, I prefer to back the data up to a FireWire drive and to either CD-Rs
or DVD-Rs. DVD burners are becoming a more attractive option because DVDs
can hold over six times as much data as a CD-R, and the prices on DVD burners and discs are dropping all the time. I recently added a 20X DVD-/+RW
drive to my system, and it cost around $100. Blank DVDs run about 25 or 30
cents each when bought in quantities of 100. Because large Pro Tools sessions can easily exceed the storage capacity of a CD-R, the extra storage
capacity of DVDs allows you to store the session on a single disc instead of
spanning it across multiple discs, which makes backing up your data that
much easier.
Keeping Bugs at Bay: Good Habits to Get Into
129
The software you need for backing up your data to CD was probably
included with your CD/DVD burner (or came preinstalled on your system).
Any good burning software, such as Nero or CD Creator, will work just fine
for making CD-R backups of your work. For a Mac, Disk Utility works great
(located in the Utilities folder within your Applications folder). The important thing to remember is that if it’s important to you, make a backup copy of
it. I recommend you get into the habit of backing up your session data at the
end of every Pro Tools session. Trust me — you’ll thank me for this later.
Back up your system drive
I normally install Windows XP, then all my software, and then back it up.
After that, I leave my system drive alone, and use my second drive exclusively for Pro Tools sessions and audio data, leaving the system drive for
only the programs. Any time I add any new programs or plug-ins — or make
any other significant changes to my system drive — I create a new Ghost
backup before I install the new stuff. That way, if disaster does strike, my
system can bounce back and be up and running with very little delay.
Two great options are
✦ Norton Ghost, www.norton-online/us/protect-data: This is for
PCs only.
✦ EMC Retrospect, www.emcinsignia.com: Versions are available for
both Mac and PC.
A few minutes spent backing up your system drive and your Pro Tools sessions now can save you hours of work reloading all of your programs later
and can also save you from losing that session you spent so many hours perfecting. Get into the habit of backing up your data regularly.
Book II
Chapter 1
Configuring Your
Computer
Because installing your OS, software applications, plug-ins, and so forth can
take a considerable amount of time, I prefer to back up this information as
well as my audio and session data. Some great programs are available that
allow you to create an image of your system drive onto another hard drive
or to removable media (such as DVD-Rs). In the event of a hard drive crash
or other problem, you can restore your drive (or a new drive) to exactly the
way you had it before the crash occurred. The best part is that this takes a
lot less time than reinstalling everything from scratch.
130
Book II: Getting Started Using Pro Tools
Chapter 2: Setting Up
Your Hardware
In This Chapter
Setting up the Mbox 2 series
Advancing to the Digi 003 options
Getting to know M-Audio interfaces
I
n order to use Pro Tools software, you need a Digidesign hardware
interface — the box that gets the sound in and out of your computer.
Digidesign choices here include the Mbox 2, Mbox 2 Micro, Mbox 2 Mini,
Mbox 2 Pro, Digi 003, and Digi 003 Rack. If you’re using Pro Tools M-Powered
software, you have a ton of hardware options from the M-Audio family
(23, as of this writing). All these interfaces work with either Macintosh- or
Windows-based computers. Digidesign interfaces use Pro Tools LE software,
and M-Audio uses Pro Tools M-Powered software, but they both have essentially the same functions and almost identical operation. Differences in the
hardware include the number of inputs and outputs each interface provides,
the sample rates each one supports, and the different ways that they
connect to your computer.
In this chapter, you get the lowdown on Mbox models, Digi 003, and Digi 003
Rack. I also offer an overview of the M-Audio options to give you some
insight into your choices. To help you choose the best interface for your
needs, I tell you how many inputs and outputs you get, note the sample
rates, and discuss connection requirements for each of these units. Also, in
the case of the Digi 003, I get you up to speed on the numerous functions of
the control surface — the faders and knobs that let you mix with your hands.
In this chapter, I also show you how to connect each interface so you can
get your system up and running.
Throughout this chapter, I describe a lot of connector types. Some of these
may be familiar to you, and others might seem a bit like rocket science.
(What is an S/PDIF, anyway, and will it blow up if you plug it in?) If you start
getting a little dizzy from all these new terms, check out Book I, Chapter 3,
where I explain all types of analog and digital connectors in detail.
Despite the differences between the various Digidesign interfaces, they
share many things, including
132
Pro Tools All-in-One Desk Reference For Dummies, 2nd Edition
✦ Preamps: All but one interface (the Mbox 2 Micro) contain at least one
preamp. Preamps boost the signal from microphones so that you can
record them directly into Pro Tools. I discuss preamps in detail in Book I,
Chapter 1.
✦ Phantom power: Phantom power is a small current (48 volt; V) that’s
sent from your interface to your microphone (through the mic cable)
and is necessary for your condenser microphone to work. Phantom
power is available only on your preamp channels and can be toggled on
and off.
✦ Line-level inputs: Line-level inputs are analog connections that you plug
your guitar, keyboard, or other instruments into your interface without
any gear between your instrument and the device. Getting your preamp
inputs in the interface to accept line-level signals is easy; just click a
button on the interface.
✦ S/PDIF: Use a Sony/Philips Digital Interface Format (S/PDIF) connector
to plug an external converter into your interface, allowing you to bypass
the analog-to-digital (A/D) or digital-to-analog (D/A) conversion process.
Some people prefer this if they have separate converters whose sound
they prefer the sound over the ones contained in the interface. All
Digidesign interfaces contain S/PDIF inputs and outputs except for the
Mbox 2 Micro and Mini.
✦ ADAT Lightpipe: The ADAT Lightpipe connectors, also known as ADAT
optical, allow up to eight channels of digital information coming and
going through your device. Like S/PDIF, this allows you to bypass the
conversion process in your interface. ADAT Lightpipe is useful if you
have an external digital mixer and you want to mix with that. The Digi
003 and Digi 003 Rack have ADAT Lightpipe inputs and outputs.
✦ BNC wordclock: This is a special type of connector for sending and
receiving wordclock signals. (BNC stands for Bayonet Neil-Concelman,
for the dude who created it. It’s essentially a cable connector. A wordclock is the digital clock used to calculate the sample rate for your
audio.) Use this connector to send and receive wordclock data to synchronize your digital hardware, which is necessary only if you have a
bunch of digital devices connected. For example, if you have separate
A/D or D/A converters connected to your Digidesign interface, you might
want to connect them via the BNC wordclock to ensure that they all
operate from the same digital clock to help optimize the sound of
each unit.
You can also send and receive wordclock data via the S/PDIF connection,
but this limits your optical jack input and output options to S/PDIF. In
the case of the 003, ADAT optical is disengaged, and you lose the eight
inputs and outputs that would be available through them.
Making Sense of the Mbox 2 Series
133
Making Sense of the Mbox 2 Series
Mbox 2 (pronounced em-box too) products are the least-expensive Digidesign
interfaces. These Pro Tools hardware interfaces are perfect for people with
limited input and output needs (and maybe limited cash flow), such as solo
artists and singer/songwriters who need to record only a few tracks at a time
(instead of, say, the Flatbush Philharmonic), and those who need something
small and portable.
The four Mbox 2 options each have a user in mind: Mbox 2 Micro, Mbox 2
Mini, Mbox 2, and Mbox 2 Pro. The following sections detail these interfaces.
Mbox 2 Micro
The Mbox 2 Micro (see Figure 2-1) is a small USB interface (using the slower
speed 1.1 protocol) that’s about the size of a jump or Flash drive. This interface is designed to be used for editing, sequencing, or mixing. The Mbox 2
micro has no inputs and has only two outputs for monitoring through
headphones or speakers.
Figure 2-1:
The Mbox 2
Micro is a
tiny outputonly device
for working
on your
tracks.
The Mbox 2 Micro works up to 24-bit/48 kHz quality, which is fine for its
purposes when all you need is for the device to act as a dongle (a hardware
authorization device) for the software and to monitor what you’re doing. It
comes with Pro Tools LE software, so for its price (about $250), it’s an inexpensive way to have Pro Tools on a second computer (such as a laptop) for
working on previously recorded audio tracks with loops or MIDI sequences.
Book II
Chapter 2
Setting Up Your
Hardware
All the Mbox 2 interfaces, except for the Mbox 2 Pro, use a USB 1.1 connection. Even though this is the older, slower version of USB (compared with
USB 2.0), your USB 2.0 ports will function just fine with these interfaces.
134
Making Sense of the Mbox 2 Series
I’ve found the Mbox 2 Micro to be a great tool for working on ideas when I
travel. I even developed a pretty decent rough mix of a song on one of my
upcoming CDs while I was on a plane. In the past, I haven’t been able to work
in Pro Tools anywhere except my studio because all the other Digidesign
hardware options were too big. (Even the other Mbox 2 models are too big
for me to take on a plane and work when I fly.) This limitation has kept me
from using Pro Tools for any production because I travel a lot and need to be
able to work without hauling a ton of gear. This little unit took care of the
problem for me.
The Mbox 2 Micro is an output-only device. If you want to record any audio
tracks, you need to buy one of the other Digidesign or M-Audio interfaces
that have analog or digital inputs.
Connecting an Mbox 2 Micro to a Windows computer
Hooking up the Mbox 2 Micro involves these steps:
1. With your computer turned on, plug the Mbox 2 Micro into a USB port
in your computer.
Don’t use a USB hub: Connect directly into your computer. This keeps
your signal from being interrupted by having too much data trying to get
through one USB line.
If the New Hardware Wizard opens, leave it alone. Don’t click Next — just
leave it open and untouched. If the wizard starts to install anything
automatically, click Cancel.
2. Install the software and restart your computer according to the procedure I detail in Chapter 1 of this mini-book.
At this point, the green light should be lit, showing power to the Mbox 2
Micro. If it’s not or if it’s blinking, unplug it from your computer, wait for
ten seconds, and then plug it back in.
Be sure to complete all the system setup procedures listed in Chapter 1 of
this mini-book. This ensures that your system runs smoothly.
Connecting an Mbox 2 Micro to a Macintosh computer
To hook up the Mbox 2 Micro to a Mac, simply follow these steps:
1. Install the Pro Tools LE software that came with the Mbox 2 Micro and
restart your computer.
Chapter 1 of this mini-book has the details of this process.
2. Plug the Mbox Micro into a USB port on your computer.
Making Sense of the Mbox 2 Series
135
Don’t use a USB hub: Connect directly into your computer. This keeps
your signal from being interrupted by having too much data trying to get
through one USB line.
The green light on the Mbox Micro should be illuminated. If it’s not or if
it’s blinking, unplug it, wait ten seconds, and then plug it back in.
Be sure to complete all the system setup procedures listed in Chapter 1 of
this mini-book to ensure that your system runs smoothly.
Getting sound out of an Mbox 2 Micro
The Mbox 2 Micro has a 1⁄8" jack from which you can connect headphones for
speakers.
✦ Speakers: With a 1⁄8" jack, you need a cable with a 1⁄8" male plug on one
end that’s compatible with your speakers. Most computer speakers can
handle a direct connection because a 1⁄8" jack is standard for computers
and computer speakers. If you’re using studio monitors, such as a
Mackie HR-624, you need to find a cord that has connectors, such as 1⁄4"
plugs, on the other end.
You can adjust the level of your headphone or speakers by using the volume
dial located on the Mbox 2 Micro.
Mbox 2 Mini
This small interface — not as tiny as the Mbox2 Micro — has two analog
inputs and outputs. The Mbox 2 Mini connects via USB 1.1 and contains
internal power, so you don’t have to plug the unit into an outlet. This makes
it useful for portable recording. This USB 1.1 connection, which limits your
recording to 24 bits and up to 48 kHz, can introduce some latency (time delay
while the digital information enters and exits your computer). This limitation
is mitigated by the zero-latency monitoring option. (More on this in the
upcoming “Mbox 2” section this chapter.) You can see the Mbox 2 Mini in
Figure 2-2.
The Mbox 2 Mini has the following input/output configurations:
✦ Inputs: You can have two simultaneous inputs, including one with a
preamp and phantom power for microphones.
✦ Outputs: You have two outputs for your speakers.
✦ Headphone jack: There is a separate headphone jack.
Setting Up Your
Hardware
✦ Headphones: Make sure you have headphones with a 1⁄8" jack (like for an
iPod). Otherwise, you need to get a 1⁄4"– 1⁄8" adapter. Many decent studio
headphones, such as the AKG 240, have cords with 1⁄8" and 1⁄4" plugs.
Book II
Chapter 2
136
Making Sense of the Mbox 2 Series
Figure 2-2:
The Mbox 2
Mini is a
portable two
input/two
output USB
interface.
Connecting an Mbox 2 Mini to a Windows computer
Hooking up the Mbox 2 Mini involves these steps:
1. With your computer turned on, plug a cord into the USB port in the
Mbox 2 Mini and the other end of the cord into a USB port in your
computer.
Don’t use a USB hub: Connect directly into your computer. This keeps
your signal from being interrupted by having too much data trying to get
through one USB line.
If the New Hardware Wizard opens, leave it alone. Don’t click Next — just
leave it open and untouched. If the wizard starts to install anything automatically, click Cancel.
2. Install the software and restart your computer according to the procedure that I detail in Chapter 1 of this mini-book.
At this point, the green light should be lit, showing power to the Mbox 2
Mini. If it’s not or if it’s blinking, unplug it from your computer, wait for
ten seconds, and then plug it back in.
Be sure to complete all the system setup procedures listed in Chapter 1 of
this mini-book. This ensures that your system runs smoothly.
Connecting an Mbox 2 Mini to a Macintosh computer
To hook up the Mbox 2 Mini to a Mac, simply follow these steps:
1. Install the Pro Tools LE software that came with the Mbox 2 Mini and
restart your computer.
Chapter 1 of this mini-book has the details of this process.
Making Sense of the Mbox 2 Series
137
2. With your computer turned on, plug a cord into the USB port in the
Mbox 2 Mini and the other end of the cord into a USB port in your
computer.
Don’t use a USB hub: Connect directly into your computer. The Mbox 2
Mini doesn’t function well when other devices are using the same USB
port in the computer.
The green light on the Mbox 2 Mini should be steadily lit. If it’s not or if it’s
blinking, unplug it, wait ten seconds, and then plug it back in.
Be sure to complete all the system setup procedures listed in Chapter 1 of
this mini-book to ensure that your system runs smoothly.
The Mbox 2 Mini has the following connectors and dials:
✦ Input 1: This input allows you to connect a microphone or an instrument (such as a keyboard, guitar, or bass). This input is controlled by
the Input 1 dial on the front of the Mbox 2 Mini. On the back are
these jacks:
• Microphone: Use the XLR plug to plug in your microphone. When you
do so, also disengage the Mic/DI button to set the device for a microphone signal. If you’re using a condenser microphone, you engage
the button — marked 48V — on the back of the device. This turns on
phantom power. (Go to Book I, Chapter 5 for more on condenser
mics and phantom power.) You might also want to engage the Pad if
your signal becomes too loud.
• Instrument: The 1⁄4" jack lets you plug in an instrument, such as a keyboard or drum machine. When you use this jack, depress the Mic/DI
button — and, depending on the level of your instrument, the Pad
button to reduce the level entering the device.
• Guitar or bass: The 1⁄4" jack also functions as a direct box, so you can
plug your guitar or bass directly into the interface without needing a
separate device. (Check out Book I, Chapter 1 for more about direct
boxes.) Because guitars produce a lower-level signal than other
instruments, you need to disengage the Pad button.
✦ Input 2: This input consists of a 1⁄4" jack that accepts either an instrument or a guitar connection. You control this input from the Input 2 dial
located on the front of the Mbox 2 Mini. You plug your instrument or
guitar in the back by using these settings:
Setting Up Your
Hardware
Getting sound in and out of an Mbox 2 Mini
Book II
Chapter 2
138
Making Sense of the Mbox 2 Series
• Instrument: When you use this jack for your keyboard or synthesizer,
you might need to depress the Pad button to reduce the level entering
the device.
• Guitar or bass: Guitars produce a lower-level signal than other instruments, so you’ll need to disengage the Pad button when you plug in
this jack.
✦ Mon Out: Monitor Outputs (Mon Out) is where you connect cords to go
to your speakers (monitors). For more on monitors, check out Book I,
Chapter 1. This output is controlled by the headphone/speaker dial on
the front of the Mbox 2 Mini.
✦ Headphones: The 1⁄4" jack on the front of the Mbox Mini is where you
plug in your headphones. This jack is controlled by the headphone/
speaker dial to the right of the jack.
✦ Mix: The front panel also has a Mix knob, which you use to monitor your
inputs while you record and also listen to the playback of any recorded
tracks. Adjusting this knob allows you to mix — in your headphones —
the balance between your input and recorded stuff. I offer a little more
detail on this process in the “Mbox 2” section that follows.
After you have all your gear connected, all you need to do is open Pro Tools
software and start working. Chapter 3 in this mini-book (the next chapter)
gets you up to speed on the basics of the software.
Mbox 2
Mbox 2 is the second-generation Mbox interface. This is a bus-powered USB
1.1 interface, so you don’t need to plug it in to an outlet. You can record in 24
bits up to 48 kHz sample rate. You can also connect a MIDI instrument. The
Mbox 2 (as shown in Figure 2-3) has the following input/output configurations:
✦ Analog inputs: You can have two simultaneous inputs.
✦ Preamps: Both analog inputs have preamps for connecting your mics
directly into the interface. You also have phantom power for both
channels.
✦ Analog outputs: You have two outputs for your speakers or monitors.
✦ Headphone jack: There is a separate headphone jack.
✦ MIDI In and Out: You can connect a MIDI device via the MIDI Input and
Output jacks.
✦ Digital inputs and outputs: Use the S/PDIF coax (RCA) In and Out to
send and receive digital signal from the Mbox 2. This is handy if you
have external A/D and D/A converters that you prefer.
Making Sense of the Mbox 2 Series
139
Figure 2-3:
The Mbox 2
is a
portable,
two
input/two
output USB
interface
with MIDI
capabilities.
Book II
Chapter 2
Connecting an Mbox 2 to a Windows computer
1. With your computer turned on, plug a cord into the USB port in the
Mbox 2 and the other end of the cord into a USB port in your computer.
Don’t use a USB hub: Connect directly into your computer. This keeps
your signal from being interrupted by having too much data trying to get
through one USB line.
If the New Hardware Wizard opens, leave it alone. Don’t click Next — just
leave it open and untouched. If the wizard starts to install anything
automatically, click Cancel.
2. Install the software and restart your computer according to the procedure I explain in Chapter 1 of this mini-book.
At this point, the green light should be lit, showing power to the Mbox 2.
If it’s not or if it’s blinking, unplug it from your computer, wait for ten
seconds, and then plug it back in.
Be sure to complete all the system setup procedures listed in Chapter 1 of
this mini-book. This ensures that your system runs smoothly.
Connecting an Mbox 2 to a Macintosh computer
To hook up an Mbox 2 to a Mac, simply follow these steps:
1. Install the Pro Tools LE software that comes with the Mbox 2 and
restart your computer.
See Chapter 1 of this mini-book for the details of this process.
Setting Up Your
Hardware
Hooking up the Mbox 2 involves these steps:
140
Making Sense of the Mbox 2 Series
2. With your computer turned on, plug a cord into the USB port in the
Mbox 2 and the other end of the cord into a USB port in your computer.
Don’t use a USB hub: Connect directly into your computer. The Mbox 2
doesn’t function well when other devices are using the same USB port in
the computer.
The green light on the Mbox 2 should be steadily lit. If it’s not or if it’s
blinking, unplug it, wait ten seconds, and then plug it back in.
Be sure to complete all the system setup procedures listed in Chapter 1 of
this mini-book to ensure that your system runs smoothly.
Getting sound in and out of an Mbox 2
The Mbox 2 has the following connectors and dials:
✦ Inputs 1 and 2: These inputs allow you to connect a microphone, an
instrument (such as keyboard), or a guitar or bass. The inputs are controlled by the Input dials on the front of the Mbox 2. The Input jack that
is enabled is selected by using the Source button (it’s unmarked) located
above the DI and Mic lights in each Input section and next to the Pad
button. In back are three jacks that you can use for each channel:
• Microphone: Use the XLR jack to plug in your microphone. When you
do so, press the Source button until the Mic light illuminates. If you’re
using a condenser microphone, you engage the button (marked 48V)
just to the right of the Input 1 section. Phantom power is on when the
light is illuminated. (Go to Book I, Chapter 5 for more on condenser
mics and phantom power.) You might also want to engage the Pad
button if your signal becomes too loud.
• DI: The 1⁄4" jack, labeled DI, functions as a direct box, so you can plug
your guitar or bass directly into the interface without needing a separate device. (Check out Book I, Chapter 1 for more about direct boxes.)
• Line: Use the 1⁄4" jack marked line (TRS) to plug in an instrument, such
as a keyboard or drum machine. When you use this jack, you need to
depress the Source button until both the DI and Mic lights are off for
the input channel. Depending on the level of your instrument, you
might want to engage the Pad button to reduce the level entering the
device.
✦ Mon Out: Monitor Outputs is where you connect cords to go to your
speakers (monitors). (For more on monitors, check out Book I, Chapter 1.)
This output is controlled by the Monitor dial on the front.
✦ S/PDIF: Here, you can connect your digital devices by using a coaxial
cable (RCA). The S/PDIF connection is handy for connecting external
converters or other digital components, such as Digital Audio Tape
Making Sense of the Mbox 2 Series
141
(DAT) machines. There are no controls you have to worry about on the
front. A light on the upper left of the front panel alerts you if you have
anything connected to these jacks.
✦ MIDI: You can connect your MIDI keyboard, MIDI controller, or other
device to these. The MIDI In is connected to the MIDI Out of your device,
and the MIDI Out goes to the MIDI In of the other device. There are no
controls to worry about on the front panel of the Mbox 2.
✦ Headphones: The 1⁄4" jack on the front of the Mbox 2 is where you plug in
your headphones. This jack is controlled by the headphone dial to the
right of the jack.
✦ Mix: Use the Mix knob to monitor your inputs while you record and also
to hear the playback of any tracks. Adjusting this knob allows you to mix
the balance between your input and recorded stuff in your headphones.
This makes it easy to overdub without hearing a delay from the time it
takes your instrument’s signal to enter and exit the computer. Because the
Mbox 2 uses a USB connection and because USB transfer rates are pretty
slow (for audio, anyway), the delay is significant. Using the Mix function in
the Mbox 2 allows you to have zero-latency monitoring. In other words,
you won’t experience delay in your headphones when you overdub
tracks.
Of course, using zero-latency monitoring causes other problems. That is,
your overdubbed tracks are exactly 147 samples behind (the amount of
time it takes the signal to enter the computer) your recorded tracks. If
you use the Mix knob when you overdub and you played in time with the
tracks recorded in Pro Tools, you need to move them earlier in the session
(song) to align them. This isn’t a big deal, and I give you step-by-step
instructions on how to do this in Book III, Chapter 4.
With all your gear hooked up, you’re ready to start recording. I cover the
specifics of this in Book III, but if you haven’t used Pro Tools before, I recommend going to the next chapter (Chapter 3 in this mini-book), well, next.
Mbox 2 Pro
The Mbox 2 Pro is a step up from the other Mbox 2 models. Pro features
many more input and output options, but the most significant improvement
is its FireWire interface. This means that you input/output latency is significantly reduced — so much that you don’t have to use zero-latency monitoring trickery to eliminate the delay in your headphones while you record your
tracks. Figure 2-4 shows the Mbox 2 Pro.
Book II
Chapter 2
Setting Up Your
Hardware
✦ Mono: The Mono button on the front of the Mbox 2 allows you to hear
your song in mono. This is a good idea when you’re mixing to make sure
that you don’t have any funny sounds (a highly technical term) happening
in your stereo mixes. Check out Book VI, Chapter 1 for more about checking
your mixes in mono.
142
Making Sense of the Mbox 2 Series
Figure 2-4:
The Mbox 2
Pro is a
portable
FireWire
interface
with MIDI
capabilities
and a bunch
of Pro
features.
This feature alone makes this interface a lot better than the other Mbox
offerings in my opinion. And because it uses FireWire, your transfer speed is
fast enough for you to record in higher sample rates. In this case, you can
record up to 96 kHz. This is in line with the more expensive 003 interfaces.
The only thing missing in the Mbox 2 Pro is enough inputs and outputs to
record the better part of a band (like with the Digi 003 options). In this case,
you have the following input and outputs numbers:
✦ Simultaneous analog inputs: You’ll find two inputs with preamps and
phantom power for your microphones as well as two inputs that accept
an instrument or a turntable.
✦ Analog outputs: Pro offers two main monitor Outs for your speakers and
four Line Outs for additional speakers or to send your outputs to other gear.
✦ RCA phono inputs: These allow you to connect a tape player, a CD
player, or even a turntable to your interface.
✦ Two-channel, digital S/PDIF In and Out: These allow you to send and
receive digital signal from an Mbox 2 Pro. This is handy if you have
external A/D and D/A converters that you prefer or if you have a CD
player with digital outputs.
✦ Headphone jacks: There are two separate headphone jacks, each with
their own volume control.
✦ MIDI In and Out: You can connect a MIDI device via the MIDI Input and
Output jacks.
✦ BNC wordclock In and Out: These allow you to send and receive wordclock data so you can synchronize your digital hardware. This is one of
the other Pro features of this interface.
✦ Footswitch input: You can connect a footswitch to start and stop your
Pro Tools sessions with your foot, which can be handy if you record
yourself because it lets you start and stop the session hands-free.
Making Sense of the Mbox 2 Series
143
In addition to these inputs and outputs, Mbox 2 Pro is also bus-powered (as
long as you have a 6-pin cable and a FireWire port), making it a portable
interface.
Connecting an Mbox 2 Pro to a Windows computer
Follow these steps to hook up the Mbox 2 Pro:
1. With your computer turned on, plug a cord into the FireWire port in
the Mbox 2 Pro and the other end of the cord into a FireWire port in
your computer.
Don’t use a FireWire hub: Connect directly into your computer. This
keeps your signal from being interrupted by having too much data trying
to get through one FireWire cord.
Book II
Chapter 2
If the New Hardware Wizard opens, leave it alone. Don’t click Next — just
leave it open and untouched. If the wizard starts to install anything
automatically, click Cancel.
Setting Up Your
Hardware
2. Install the software and restart your computer according to the procedure that I detail in Chapter 1 of this mini-book.
At this point, the green light should be lit, showing power to the Mbox 2
Pro. If it’s not or if it’s blinking, unplug it from your computer, wait for
ten seconds, and then plug it back in.
Be sure to complete all the system setup procedures listed in Chapter 1 of
this mini-book. This ensures that your system runs smoothly.
You can open your software when you’re ready to record. The next chapter
of this mini-book has the details.
Connecting an Mbox 2 Pro to a Macintosh computer
To hook up the Mbox 2 Pro to a Mac, simply follow these steps:
1. Install the Pro Tools LE software that comes with the Mbox 2 Pro and
restart your computer.
See Chapter 1 of this mini-book for the details of this process.
2. With your computer turned on, plug a cord into the FireWire port in
the Mbox 2 Pro and the other end of the cord into a FireWire port in
your computer.
Don’t use a FireWire hub: Connect directly into your computer. The
Mbox Pro 2 doesn’t function well when other devices are using the same
FireWire port in the computer.
144
Making Sense of the Mbox 2 Series
You’re ready to open your software and get started. Check out the next chapter
of this mini-book to get familiar with the Pro Tools LE.
To ensure that your system runs smoothly, be sure to complete all the
system setup procedures that I list in Chapter 1 of this mini-book.
Getting sound in and out of an Mbox 2 Pro
The Mbox 2 Pro is pretty flexible when getting connected. Here’s a rundown
of the ins and outs of it all:
✦ Inputs 1 and 2: Use these inputs to connect a microphone, an instrument
(such as keyboard), or a guitar or bass. The inputs are controlled by the
Input dials on the front of the unit. The Input jack that is enabled is
selected using the Source button (it’s unmarked) located above the DI
and Mic lights in each Input section. In back are three jacks that you can
use for each channel:
• Microphone: Use the combo jack on the back to plug in your microphone. When you do so, press the Source button until the Mic light
illuminates. If you’re using a condenser microphone, you engage the
button (marked 48V), just to the right of the Input 1 section. Phantom
power is on when the light is illuminated. This turns on phantom power.
(Go to Book I, Chapter 5 for more on condenser mics and phantom
power.) You may also want to engage the Pad button if your signal
becomes too loud.
• Line: The combo jack on the back of the Mbox 2 Pro also allows you
to plug in an instrument, such as a keyboard or drum machine. When
you use this jack, you need to depress the Source button until both
the DI and Mic lights are off for the input channel. Depending on the
level of your instrument, you might want to engage the Pad button to
reduce the level entering the device.
• DI: The 1⁄4" jack located on the front of the unit functions as a direct
box so you can plug your guitar or bass directly into the interface
without needing a separate device. (Check out Book I, Chapter 1 for
more about direct boxes.) Press the Source button until the DI light
is illuminated.
✦ Aux In: The Aux (auxiliary) input is for an instrument or a turntable. You
have two options:
• RCA jacks: You use the RCA jacks if you want to plug in your turntable.
This jack provides a preamp and is engaged when you press the
Source button on the front next to the Aux dial until the Phono light
is lit up.
Making Sense of the Mbox 2 Series
•
145
1
⁄4" TS jacks: These jacks are for instruments. The two jacks are for
your left and right signals. You could theoretically plug two different
instruments in these, but you have only one Gain knob on the front
to adjust the input volume. Whatever instruments you plug in to
these, you need to press the Source button for the Aux channel until
no light is lit to engage these inputs.
✦ Mon Out: Monitor Outputs are where you connect cords to go to your
speakers (monitors). (For more on monitors, check out Book I, Chapter 1.)
This output is controlled by the Monitor dial on the front.
✦ Line Outs: Four line outputs use 1⁄4" TS jacks. These are for connecting to
other gear or speakers. These outputs don’t have a volume control. The
signal level going to these outputs is controlled by the Master fader of
your session. If you want to be able to adjust the volume to a set of
speakers, you need a mixer or external volume controller.
✦ Line Out 5/6: These 1⁄4" jacks allow you to send two additional outputs to
an external location. This can be handy if you want to create an alternate monitor mix (for a submix, for example). Like with the Line Outs
described earlier, there is no volume dial for these outputs.
✦ Footswitch: Labeled Foot SW, use this jack to connect a footswitch to
the interface so you can start and stop your session without using your
hands. You can find footswitches for this purpose at almost any music
store. They generally cost around $20.
✦ Wordclock: Use these jacks, which look like typical coax-cable jacks, to
connect an Mbox 2 Pro to other digital gear that has wordclock capabilities.
This is only necessary when you have more than one digital piece of
equipment (such as external digital converters) and you want to
synchronize their clocks.
✦ MIDI: You can connect your MIDI keyboard, MIDI controller, or other
device to these. MIDI In is connected to the MIDI Out of your device, and
MIDI Out goes to the MIDI In of the other device. There are no controls
to worry about on the front panel of the Mbox 2 Pro.
✦ Headphones: The 1⁄4" jack on the front of unit is where you can plug in
your headphones. This jack is controlled by the headphone dial to the
right of the jack.
Setting Up Your
Hardware
✦ S/PDIF: Here, you can connect your digital devices by using a coaxial
cable (RCA). The S/PDIF connection is handy for connecting external
converters or other digital components, such as DAT machines. There
are no controls you have to worry about on the front. A light on the
upper left of the front panel alerts you if you have anything connected to
these jacks.
Book II
Chapter 2
146
Digging Into the Digi 003 Interfaces
After you have all your gear connected, you can get started recording. I
recommend that if you haven’t used Pro Tools before, finish Book II first.
This will give you a solid foundation so you can work efficiently.
Digging Into the Digi 003 Interfaces
Digi 003 interfaces are FireWire interfaces that replaced the 002 and can
record at high sample rates, up to 96 kHz (in 24 bits, of course). The 003
models consist of the 003 (see Figure 2-5) and the 003 Rack (see Figure 2-6).
Both have the same input and output configurations. The difference is that
the 003 has a control surface built in, which gives you hands-on faders,
knobs, dials, and buttons. For people who need the tactile experience while
they work, the 003 is a great option.
Figure 2-5:
The Digi 003
has a fullfunction
control
surface as
well as a
FireWire
interface.
Figure 2-6:
The Digi 003
Rack is a
FireWire
interface
that has
enough
inputs and
outputs to
record a
band.
Digging Into the Digi 003 Interfaces
147
Digidesign also makes a Command|8 control surface that you can add if you
get the 003 Rack or any other interface and decide you need physical faders
and buttons and so on. Of course, this will cost you more than if you bought
the 003 initially.
Recording at high sample rates, such as 88.2 kHz or 96 kHz, takes twice
the room on your hard drive and requires twice the processing power than
recording at 44.1 kHz or 48 kHz. Some people swear by the improvement in
sound, but most experienced ears will say that the overall improvement in
sonic quality is barely noticeable. If you have the power and the disc space, I
recommend recording at the higher sample rates for advantages other than
simply sonic quality, such as half the latency. If your computer or hard drive
isn’t the biggest and fastest — or if you want to record a ton of tracks and
process the heck out of them — you might want to stick with the standard
rate for CD audio: 44.1 kHz.
Both the Digi 003 and the 003 Rack have the same input and output
configurations:
✦ Simultaneous analog inputs: These eight inputs include four with preamps and phantom power for your microphones and four that accept an
instrument.
✦ Analog outputs: These eight outputs allow you to have send alternate
mixes or submixes of tracks in your session.
✦ Monitor outputs: Labeled Main and Alt, these two sets of monitor outputs allow you to connect two sets of speakers.
✦ Alt In: These alternate input jacks are handy for connecting a CD player
or tape deck and listening to it without having to turn on the software or
listening to reference CDs from an external player while you mix.
✦ Digital In and Out channels: These channels comprise eight channels of
ADAT optical and two channels of S/PDIF coax (RCA), which you use to
send and receive digital signals to and from the 003. This is handy if you
have external A/D and D/A converters or a digital mixer.
✦ Headphone jacks: The two headphone jacks each have their own
volume control.
✦ MIDI In and Out: The 003 has one MIDI In port and two MIDI Out ports.
✦ BNC wordclock In and Out: Use these to send and receive wordclock
data to synchronize your digital hardware.
✦ Footswitch input: You can connect a footswitch to control the transport
of Pro Tools, which can be handy when recording yourself — you can
start and stop the session hands-free.
Setting Up Your
Hardware
Discovering the Digi 003 input and outputs
Book II
Chapter 2
148
Digging Into the Digi 003 Interfaces
Connecting an 003 to a Windows computer
Follow these steps to hook up an 003:
1. With your computer turned on, plug a cord into the FireWire port in
the 003 and the other end of the cord into a FireWire port in your
computer.
Don’t use a FireWire hub: Connect directly into your computer. This
keeps your signal from being interrupted by having too much data trying
to get through one FireWire cord.
If the New Hardware Wizard opens, leave it alone. Don’t click Next — just
leave it open and untouched. If the wizard starts to install anything
automatically, click Cancel.
2. Install the software and restart your computer according to the procedures that I describe in Chapter 1 of this mini-book.
Be sure to complete all the system setup procedures listed in Chapter 1 of
this mini-book. This ensures that your system runs smoothly.
You can open your software when you’re ready to record. Chapter 3 of this
mini-book has the details.
Connecting an 003 to a Macintosh computer
To hook up an 003 to a Mac, simply follow these steps:
1. Install the Pro Tools LE software that comes with the 003 and restart
your computer.
See Chapter 1 of this mini-book for the details of this process.
2. With your computer turned on, plug a cord into the FireWire port in
the 003 and the other end of the cord into a FireWire port in your
computer.
Don’t use a FireWire hub: Connect directly into your computer. The 003
doesn’t function well when other devices are using the same FireWire
port in the computer.
You’re ready to open your software and get started. Check out Chapter 3 of
this mini-book to get familiar with the Pro Tools LE.
Be sure to complete all the system setup procedures listed in Chapter 1 of
this mini-book to ensure that your system runs smoothly.
Digging Into the Digi 003 Interfaces
149
Connecting your gear to an 003
Connecting audio and MIDI gear is much the same process for the 003 as for
the Mbox 2 Pro, with just more inputs and outputs. Here’s a rundown of
them all:
✦ Inputs 1–4: Use these inputs to connect microphones, instruments
(such as a keyboard or synthesizer), or guitars or basses. The inputs are
controlled by the Input dials on the front of the unit. The input jack that
is enabled is selected using the Source button (it’s unmarked) located
above the DI and Mic lights in each Input section. In back are jacks that
you can use for each channel:
• DI: The 1⁄4" jack on the back of the unit functions as a direct box when
you have the Mic/DI light illuminated. This gives you the proper
signal level so you can plug your guitar or bass directly into the
interface without needing a separate device. (Check out Book I,
Chapter 1 for more about direct boxes.)
• Line: The 1⁄4" jack on the back of a 003 also lets you plug in an instrument, such as a keyboard or drum machine. When you use this jack,
you need to depress the source button until the Mic/DI light is off for
the input channel.
✦ Inputs 5–8: These 1⁄4" TRS inputs are optimized for instrument (line) level
sources, such as keyboards, synthesizers, or drum machines. There is
no input gain control for these inputs. You need to set the gain on your
instrument. You also have buttons for –10 decibel (dB) or +4 dB signals.
Book I, Chapter 2 has more in these types of signals.
✦ Footswitch: Labeled Foot SW, use this jack to connect a footswitch to
the interface so you can start and stop your session hands-free. You can
find footswitches for this purpose at almost any music store. They generally cost around $20.
✦ FireWire: This is where you connect your FireWire cable to go to your
computer. The second jack can be used to chain this unit to an external
FireWire hard drive (although I prefer connecting extra hard drives
directly to the computer).
✦ Line Outs: Eight line outputs use 1⁄4" TRS jacks. These are for connecting
to other gear or speakers. These outputs don’t have a volume control.
The signal level going to these outputs is controlled by the channel
Book II
Chapter 2
Setting Up Your
Hardware
• Microphone: Use the XLR jack, in back, to plug in your microphone.
When you do so, press the Input source button until the Mic/DI light
illuminates. If you’re using a condenser microphone, you engage the
button (marked 48V) on the back near the input. This turns on phantom
power. (Go to Book I, Chapter 5 for more on condenser mics and
phantom power.) You might also want to engage the low pass filter
located on the front.
150
Digging Into the Digi 003 Interfaces
faders of your session. If you want to be able to adjust the volume to a
set of speakers, you need a mixer or an external volume controller.
✦ Mon Out: Monitor Outputs are where you connect cords to go to
you speakers (monitors). (For more on monitors, check out Book I,
Chapter 1.) This output is controlled by the Monitor dial on the front.
✦ Alt Output: These jacks duplicate the signal coming out of the Main
Outputs 1 and 2. These jacks are handy if you have two sets of monitors,
and you want to hook them both up to your system.
✦ Alt Input: These jacks can be routed to inputs 7 and 8 of the 003 (instead
of whatever is plugged into the normal line 7 and 8 inputs) or sent directly
to the Monitor Outputs. This is useful if you want to listen to a tape deck
or CD player without firing up Pro Tools software or your computer.
✦ Optical In and Out: Here, you can connect your digital devices by using
an optical connection. This jack can either pass eight channels of ADAT
or two channels of S/PDIF. You make this adjustment within the software.
The eight channels of ADAT are unavailable when you record in high resolution (88.2 kHz or 96 kHz). Lights on the front panels let you know
whether you are connected via S/PDIF or ADAT.
✦ S/PDIF: Here, you can connect your digital devices with a coaxial cable
(RCA). This S/PDIF connection is enabled whenever you have cords
connected to these jacks and when you don’t have the Optical jacks
assigned for S/PDIF signals. There are no controls you have to worry
about in the front. A light on the front panel alerts you if you have
anything connected to these jacks.
✦ Wordclock: These jacks, which look like typical coax-cable jacks, are
used to connect the 003 to other digital gear that has wordclock capabilities. This is necessary only when you have more than one digital piece
of equipment (such as external digital converters), and you want to
synchronize their clocks.
✦ MIDI: You can connect your MIDI keyboard, MIDI controller, or other
device to these. MIDI In is connected to the MIDI Out of your device, and
MIDI Out goes to the MIDI In of the other device. There are no controls
to worry about on the front panel of the 003.
✦ Headphones: The 1⁄4" jacks on the front of unit are where you plug in
your headphones. You can plug in two sets of headphones, and each has
its own volume control.
After you have all your gear connected, you can get started recording. I
recommend that you finish Book II first if you haven’t used Pro Tools before.
This will give you a solid foundation so you can work efficiently.
Digging Into the Digi 003 Interfaces
151
Examining the 003 control surface features
The control surface is the only difference between the Digi 003 and the Digi
003 Rack, but it’s a big difference. Like with the Rack version, you have controls for four mic preamps as well as the headphone and monitoring controls. Although the control surface doesn’t completely eliminate the need for
a keyboard and mouse, many functions that would require them when using
a Digi 003 Rack can be controlled directly from the control surface of the Digi
003, which has six main sections (which I describe in the following sections).
I don’t cover all the details of the 003 control surface, but the following
sections give you a good overview to get you started.
Fader section
✦ Motorized, touch-sensitive, 100mm faders: These eight faders control
volume levels of individual tracks, among a host of other functions.
These faders also move to follow the changes of the faders on-screen.
This feature is helpful when performing complex mixes with automation.
(Book VI, Chapter 6 has more on automating mixes.)
✦ Mute, Solo, and SEL (Select) buttons: These buttons control the Mute,
Solo, and Selection functions in the software.
✦ Rotary Encoders: Use encoders for panning sound from one channel to
another, as well as for other functions, such as adjusting reverb settings
or other plug-in parameters.
✦ Encoder Meter LED Rings: These rings are used for showing the position of your encoder knobs, track levels, and so forth.
✦ Channel Meter LEDs: These five-segment LEDs show your level as well
as the automation mode for the track, depending on how the meter
switch is set.
Console/Channel View section
The Console/Channel View section is the collection of buttons directly above
the fader section. These buttons, when used along with the Scribble Strips,
SEL buttons, Rotary Encoders, and Encoder Meters (and even the eight main
faders), offer a variety of capabilities from viewing and adjusting the Aux Send
levels to changing the parameters for panning, channel inserts, and plug-ins.
Setting Up Your
Hardware
The Fader section takes up the largest section of the Digi 003 top panel. It
includes
Book II
Chapter 2
152
Digging Into the Digi 003 Interfaces
View is the Digidesign term for what’s displayed on the Digi 003 control
surface. The 003 offers two views: Console and Channel.
✦ Console view: What you see on-screen is a virtual console; you can
adjust panning, sends, and inserts for all channels on the control
surface.
✦ Channel view: All the Rotary Encoder controls and Scribble Strips
are used to display and manipulate controls of various types — plug-in
parameters, inserts, or sends — for a single track. If, for example, you
want to see all the values for a particular plug-in (or all the send levels
for a particular track) at once, Channel view is the way to get a look at it.
Use the switches directly above the Scribble Strips to select which type of
data is displayed. You can navigate through various plug-in pages, bypass a
plug-in, or exit Channel view and return to Console view.
Global Fader controls
Located just above and to the right and left of the channel faders, the Global
Fader controls affect how all the faders operate as well as their assignments.
The following list spells out what each Global Fader control does:
✦ Record Arm: The Record Arm (Enable) switch does just what its name
suggests: It enables the recording capability for tracks when you press
it. Pressing the Channel Select switch immediately after that is how you
specify the track(s) you want to, uh, record-enable.
✦ Fader Flip: The Fader Flip switch functions in a variety of different ways,
depending on which view mode you’re in. Normally, when you press this
button, it flips the main Channel Faders and the Rotary Encoders. Then
you can use the Channel Faders to control panning and other functions
normally handled by the Rotary Encoder controls. Hey, sometimes that’s
just more intuitive.
• Send Flip mode, which operates when you’re in Console view, allows
you to adjust send levels with the Channel Faders instead of the
Rotary Encoders.
• Plug-in Flip mode, which functions when you’re in Channel view and
have a plug-in open, allows you to use the Channel Faders to control
the parameters of software plug-ins, such as compressors and
equalizers.
✦ Master Fader: The Master Fader switch gives you the ability to move all
Master faders in your Pro Tools session to the far right of the control
surface.
✦ Default Switch: This is used with the Channel Select switch to return
your fader to its default position.
Digging Into the Digi 003 Interfaces
153
✦ Input Switch: The Input switch toggles between Auto Input and Input
Only Monitor modes for your record-enabled tracks.
Transport, jog/shuttle wheel, and Navigation controls
Located just to the right of the faders is the Transport and Navigation section,
offering dedicated controls for transport functions — record, play, stop, and
so on. These duplicate the on-screen transport controls found in the Pro
Tools software.
A large, circular collection of four switches holds the Navigation and Zoom
keys. Used along with the three keys immediately above them (Bank, Nudge,
and Zoom), these zoom in and out of waveform displays, select banks of
faders in groups of eight, or nudge the faders to the left or right, one track at
a time. This allows you to control all the on-screen faders with just the eight
hardware faders on the 003. Magic? Maybe not, but it’s close enough for
rock’n’roll.
There are also buttons for selecting Loop Playback and Loop Record; to
enable or disable Quick Punch; and to switch between the Edit, Mix, and
Plug-in windows in the Pro Tools software.
The Function/Utility switches on the far right of the 003 are primarily used
for when you use the Digi 003 as a standalone mixer without a computer. You
use these switches to handle such tasks as entering Utility mode, naming
channels, and taking fader and control “snapshots” (as well as saving and
recalling them) so you have a clear record of exactly what you did in a particular session.
The F4 and F5 keys are surprisingly useful for running the Pro Tools software:
✦ F4: Pressing F4 temporarily disables that spooky movement of the
motorized hardware faders, without affecting the actual automation
within the Pro Tools software. This feature can be handy when you’re
recording yourself with a microphone in the same room as the 003 and
you don’t want your microphone to pick up the sound of the faders
moving around. When you’re done, just press F4 a second time, and
fader operation returns to normal.
Book II
Chapter 2
Setting Up Your
Hardware
The jog/shuttle wheel is located above the transport controls and allows you
to quickly scroll through your session and “scrub” back and forth through
audio (like rocking tape across the playback head) to find glitches in your
tracks. The outer part of the dial scrolls through your session, and the inner
part of the dial has a finer resolution for scrubbing. As well, you can scroll
through track assignments for the fader by holding the Nudge key while you
roll the outer dial.
154
Digging Into the Digi 003 Interfaces
✦ F5: Pressing the F5 switch can call up plug-ins that you inserted on
various tracks and allows you to quickly change to various data-display
modes for the Scribble Strips.
Status Indicators and Display Controls areas
Directly above the Transport and Navigation controls is the Status Indicators
and Display Controls area of the Digi 003.
Here you’ll find a multi-LED display that indicates the following:
✦ Main LED showing track, send and insert names, pan position, send
levels, and plug-in information
The content of the LED is determined by the Channel and Console view
selection.
✦ Sample rate for the current session
✦ Successful communication with your computer via the FireWire
interface
✦ Whether MIDI data is being received at the MIDI In port or being
transmitted out of either MIDI Out port
Two additional Scribble Strips are also located here (called the Display
Scribble Strips). These displays have two modes, which you can toggle by
pressing the Display Mode switch:
✦ Status mode: This displays the current status of the Channel Scribble
Strips, letting you know exactly what sort of data they are displaying,
such as pan, sends, EQ, and so on.
✦ Counter mode: This displays the value of the main location indicator in
the Pro Tools software, letting you know exactly what position you’re at
within your song. This can be displayed as bars and beats, minutes and
seconds, or in samples, depending on which of the three is selected as
the main time scale in the Pro Tools software.
The Encoder/Meter Mode switch allows you to change the type of data
displayed by the Encoder Meter LED rings that surround each Rotary
Encoder control. When you toggle this switch, the meters display either
levels or panning positions. This capability is available for mono or stereo
channels and sends (the signal going to effects); the three Encoder/Meter
Mode LED indicators show you the current status.
Switches for Enter, Undo, and entering Standalone Mode are also located in
this section.
M-Audio Interfaces
155
Automation section
Use the Automation section to control automation modes and functions.
With the Read, Write, Latch, Touch, and Off switches, you can enable or
disable these automation modes for any track. As well, this section has a
switch that suspends automation across all tracks.
Keyboard Modifier switches
When you start using Pro Tools, you’re likely to suspect right away that many
tasks are performed by pressing a combination of two or more keys on your
keyboard. These keyboard shortcuts can save you a lot of time compared
with fishing around in the program menu for the action you want to perform.
The Keyboard Modifier switches duplicate often-used computer keys used
for these commands (such as Shift, Option, and Control).
A few years ago, the Digidesign parent company bought the audio hardware
maker M-Audio. Rather than absorb their product line, they chose to add Pro
tools functionality to many of the M-Audio interfaces. This is done through a
version of Pro Tools called (logically enough) Pro Tools M-Powered. At first,
just a few M-Audio interfaces could run Pro Tools M-Powered, but as time
went by, more and more interfaces were added. At the time of this writing,
more than 20 different M-Audio interfaces work with Pro Tools M-Powered
software. Rather than go into all the details of all these hardware options, this
section offers an overview of the different hardware and their basic features,
such as input and output configurations. Tables 2-1 and 2-2 break down many
of the currently compatible M-Audio interfaces and show you the capabilities
of the interfaces.
Digidesign continues to add M-Audio–compatible hardware to this list, so I
recommend going here for an up-to-date list of compatible hardware:
www.digidesign.com/index.cfm?langid=151&navid=35&itemid=4901
M-Audio interfaces don’t come with Pro Tools M-Powered software. You need
to buy the software separately (around $250), so even though the M-Audio
interfaces are generally less expensive than the Digidesign ones, it ends up
costing you as much or more to use an M-Audio interface. My experience is
also that the Digidesign interfaces sound better than the M-Audio ones. (Of
course, this is subjective, and I’m sure many people feel the other way.)
Setting Up Your
Hardware
M-Audio Interfaces
Book II
Chapter 2
PCI
USB
USB
PCI
PCI
PCI
PCI
USB
Audiophile 2496
Audiophile USB
Black Box
Delta 1010
Delta 1010LT
Delta 44
Delta 66
Fast Track Pro
24
FW
FW
FireWire 410
FireWire Solo
USB
USB
FW
Ozone
ProjectMix I/O
24
24
16
24
USB
Jam Lab
Mobilepre USB
24
FireWire Audiophile FW
24
24
FireWire 1814
24
USB
FW
Fast Track USB
24
24
24
24
24
24
24
24
24
PCI
Audiophile 192
96
96
48
48
96
96
96
96
48
96
96
96
96
96
44.1
96
96
192
$1,600
$300
$180
$80
$250
$250
$400
$600
$130
$250
$240
$200
$250
$750
$200
$250
$130
$200
Price
Max Bit Depth
Name
Max Bandwidth
Pro Tools M-Powered–Compatible Hardware Basic Features
Interface Type
Table 2-1
Control surface included
Keyboard
Portable
Made for guitar recording
One 1/8 output for headphone
or speakers (not both)
Phantom power
Phantom power
Phantom power
GT Player Express (effects)
Portable
Breakout box
Breakout box
Wordclock I/O
Breakout box, Wordclock I/O
Guitar amp simulator and
built-in effects
Portable
Other Features (Including
Breakout Box, Controller,
and Keyboard)
156
M-Audio Interfaces
8
ProjectMix I/O
1
FireWire Solo
1
2
FireWire 410
2
2
FireWire 1814
Ozone
1
Fast Track USB
Mobilepre USB
2
Fast Track Pro
0
0
Delta 66
0
0
Delta 44
Jam Lab
2
Delta 1010LT
FireWire Audiophile
1
2
Delta 1010
Audiophile USB
Black Box
0
0
Audiophile 2496
Yes
Yes
Out only
No
No
Yes
No
Yes
Yes
No
Yes
No
No
Yes
Yes
No
Yes
8
2
2
1
2
2
2
8
2
4
4
4
8
8
2
2
2
2
8
2
2
1*
4
2
8
4
2
4
4
4
8
8
2
2
2
2
Analog Outs
10
0
0
0
2
2
2
10
0
2
2
0
2
2
2
2
2
2
Digi Ins
1
1*
1
1
2
2
0
0
18
1
2
0
2
2
1
2
1
0
2
2
0
0
0
0
2
10
1
0
2
2
0
1
2
2
2
Headphone
0
Digi Outs
0
Audiophile 192
Analog Ins
MIDI
Preamps
Name
Setting Up Your
Hardware
Yes
Pro Tools M-Powered–Compatible Hardware Inputs and Outputs
Table 2-2
M-Audio Interfaces
157
Book II
Chapter 2
158
Book II: Getting Started Using Pro Tools
Chapter 3: Examining
Software Basics
In This Chapter
Getting to know Pro Tools conventions
Configuring system settings
Understanding sessions
Managing files
P
ro Tools software is one of the more simple and easy-to-use audio
programs available. However, just like any software, you need to know
some basic conventions to work efficiently. This chapter covers the basics
so you can better understand your software as well as get your system
configured properly. This chapter also shows you how to open, set up, and
navigate sessions (which I talk about in the second half of the chapter) as
well as how to manage file formats and file types.
Keeping Software Straight
Pro Tools comes in several versions: for example, TDM and LE, Mac and PC.
Although the versions sport only minor differences, knowing the differences
can help you better understand your own system. Read on to find out the
details.
Looking at Pro Tools versions
Digidesign, the maker of Pro Tools software, offers three basic types of
systems: LE, M-Powered, and HD. Although this book focuses on Pro Tools
LE and M-Powered, you might encounter the HD version if you take your
files to a commercial studio. In this section, I offer an overview of these
types of systems.
Pro Tools LE and M-Powered
Pro Tools LE and M-powered version are host-based systems. The Digidesign
(the 003, for example) or M-Audio hardware (the FireWire 410, for example)
acts as an interface between the analog-and-digital world and the software.
Pro Tools software relies on the processing power of your computer’s CPU
160
Getting Set Up
to work: That is, all the recording, playback, mixing, editing, and other processing you do depends on the power of your computer. So, the more powerful
your computer, the more you can do with your Pro Tools LE or M-Powered
system. Both Pro Tools LE and M-Powered offer a limit of 32 active audio
tracks that you can record or play back. You can have more audio tracks in
your session, but Pro Tools allows you to play only up to 32 at a time.
Pro Tools TDM
Pro Tools TDM systems, such as Pro Tools HD, are processor based, providing
special computer chips that go into the computer to handle all the processing
needs of the software. This takes the load off the computer and guarantees
certain levels of performance. Pro Tools TDM has been the professional standard because Digidesign hardware (with its own built-in processors) can offer
a stable, reliable, and predictable level of performance. Too, putting the same
processors in your computer can give you the same performance. Your track
limits are much higher with the TDM system compared with the host-based —
up to 192 audio tracks — and these track counts are guaranteed by the
Digidesign DSP (Digital Signal Processing) chips. The downside is that TDM
systems are much more expensive than the LE and M-Powered versions.
As a way of offsetting the higher cost, Digidesign offers a few features to
TDM users that LE and M-Powered users don’t have, such as more and
better plug-ins as well as a few extra editing and mixing options. The good
news is that any recordings you do in your LE or M-Powered system can be
opened in a TDM system (at a commercial studio, for instance) to mix or otherwise process your tracks. This is handy if you want to record at home and
then take it to a pro to mix.
Differences between Macs and PCs
Aside from the obvious hardware and operating system (OS) differences
between Apple- and Windows-based computers, Mac and PC versions of the
Pro Tools software are nearly identical. The only significant difference you’ll
find between the two is the keyboard shortcuts used to perform certain tasks.
Throughout the book, I give both versions of the shortcuts.
Getting Set Up
Before you can do any work in Pro Tools, you have to set up both your hardware and your Playback Engine settings. This section walks you through how
to do this.
Getting Set Up
161
Setting hardware settings
One of the first things you need to do before you start using Pro Tools in
earnest is to configure your hardware settings within the software program.
This is done via the Hardware Setup dialog box, as shown in Figure 3-1. (To
get there, choose Setup➪Hardware Setup from the main menu.) From this
dialog box, you can check out your peripherals as well as set the clock source,
bit rate, and digital input. I give you a rundown of these options in the following
sections.
Figure 3-1:
The
Hardware
Setup dialog
box is
where you
configure
your
hardware
device.
Book II
Chapter 3
Examining Software
Basics
Peripherals
Located in the upper-left portion of the Hardware Setup dialog box, the
Peripherals pane shows what hardware is hooked up to your computer. In
the case of Figure 3-1, it’s the Digi 002. If you have a Digi 001 or Mbox, you’ll
see either one of those listed in this pane.
Clock Source
From the Clock Source drop-down menu, you choose your source for the digital
master clock, which controls the sample rate capture and playback. This makes
sure that if you have more than one device (a separate analog-to-digital [A/D]
converter connected to your Digidesign interface, for example), all devices are
synchronized. If you just use the Digidesign interface, simply choose Internal from
this menu. If you have other digital devices, such as a digital mixer or an external
converter, choose your clock source based on the device that has the best clock. In
this case, you can choose from the following options:
✦ Internal: Uses the digital clock inside the Digidesign interface.
✦ S/PDIF (RCA): Synchronizes to a signal sent via the coaxial S/PDIF input.
162
Getting Set Up
✦ Optical: Synchronizes to a signal coming in the Optical input. The optical
format that is used is based upon whether you select ADAT or S/PDIF in
the upcoming “Optical Format” section.
For more on ADAT, S/PDIF, and Optical connections, check out Book I,
Chapter 2.
Before you can use one of the digital connections as a clock source, you have
to first connect the device to your Digidesign hardware — then you adjust
the setting in the Hardware Setup dialog box. Otherwise, the device won’t
show up in the dialog box.
If you have more than one digital device connected (such as a digital mixer
connected to your Digidesign interface), do some experimenting by recording
with different clock sources and then compare the chosen sources to see
which one gives you the best sound. (Digital clocks vary in quality.) Also, if
you have more than three digital devices connected to your system, consider
using a specialized master clock and distribute this clock source to all your
devices. This will likely give you a better sound because then all your
devices follow the same clock timing.
Optical Format
From this area, choose how the digital inputs on your Digidesign hardware
function. For example, with the Digi 002, you can use the Optical jacks
(located on the back of the device — see Book II, Chapter 2 for more) to
send and receive ADAT or S/PDIF signals. Your two options in this section of
the dialog box are
✦ ADAT: Selecting this option means your RCA jacks are disabled (you can
no longer send and receive ADAT signals), and the S/PDIF signals are
sent through the Optical jacks instead.
✦ S/PDIF: Selecting this option means that your RCA jacks send and receive
S/PDIF signals while the Optical jacks send and receive ADAT signals.
Sample Rate
From the Sample Rate drop-down menu, choose the sample rate in which to
work. Depending on your hardware, you can choose 44.1, 48, 88.2, or 96 kHz.
Check out Book II, Chapter 2 to see which sample rates are supported by
your Digidesign device. While you’re at it, check out Book I, Chapter 1 for the
nitty-gritty of sample rates.
The Sample Rate drop-down menu is editable only when you don’t have a
session open. If you have a session open, this area shows the sample rate
chosen when this session was created but won’t allow you to make any
changes. To choose a different sample rate
Getting Set Up
163
1. Close your open session.
2. Choose Setup➪Hardware Setup from the main menu and make your
choice.
3. Click OK and then open a new session.
The new session is in the sample rate you just chose.
Playing with the Playback Engine settings
Figure 3-2:
Adjust your
system’s
performance
from the
Playback
Engine
dialog box.
H/W Buffer Size
In this context, H/W here stands for Hardware, and the hardware buffer size
controls the amount of memory used to handle the processing of audio (as
well as plug-ins, such as reverb). The lower this setting, the lower the latency
(time it takes to get sound into and back out of your system) that you hear
when you record.
Book II
Chapter 3
Examining Software
Basics
The Playback Engine dialog box is where you can tweak various options —
hardware buffer size, CPU usage limit, and playback buffer size, for example —
so your system runs at top efficiency. Getting there — where “there” looks a
lot like Figure 3-2 — involves choosing Setup➪Playback Engine from the
main menu. As for what all these options actually mean, the following sections
take care of that.
164
Getting Set Up
I suggest keep this setting as low as possible while recording especially when
you do overdubs. How low you can go depends on how many tracks you record
at once whether you want to use plug-ins reverb while recording. Using lots of
tracks and lots of plug-ins requires lots of memory, which force you (rats!) to
bump up the hardware buffer size. Higher buffer sizes mean higher latencies,
which can make overdubbing tracks more difficult, so I reserve high buffer
sizes until after I’m done recording all my tracks.
When you’re ready to mix, go ahead and raise the buffer size. This puts less
stress on your system and allows you to have more plug-ins running before
you run into performance problems.
RTAS Processors
From the RTAS Processors drop-down menu, you can choose the number of
available processors that Pro Tools will use. The number of processors you
can choose depends on how many processors your computer has. My
advice: Choose the highest number possible here.
CPU Usage Limit
From the CPU Usage Limit drop-down menu, set the amount of the computer’s
processing power (as a percentage) used to run the program. The default is
65%, but you can go much higher if you have only Pro Tools open when you
work. The more programs you have open when working in Pro Tools, the lower
the setting you want. Set it as high as you can without affecting the response
of your screen redraws. A good setting to start with is around 75% to 85%.
RTAS Engine
The RTAS Engine check box allows you to avoid seeing an annoying error
message if Pro Tools experiences any errors while you play back or record.
Selecting this check box might result in clicks or pops in the audio if an error
occurs. This is no big deal when you play back your session, but it can be a
problem when you record because these clicks and pops will likely show up
in your audio tracks. I recommend leaving this check box cleared whenever
you record. The only time I select this check box is if I’m working on a rough
mix and don’t want any error messages to stop to flow of my creative
process.
If you’re getting a lot of error messages, reconsider how many plug-ins
you’re using — or maybe upgrade your computer so it can handle more.
Getting Set Up
165
DAE Playback Buffer
The DAE (Digidesign Audio Engine) playback buffer deals with the amount of
memory the audio engine uses to manage the hard drive’s buffers. Again, you
want as low of a setting as you can get without sacrificing system performance.
If the setting is too high, you experience a delay between when you use the
Play command and when Pro Tools starts playing the recording. Using too low
of a setting, on the other hand, can create problems, such as audio dropout (the
sound cuts off) when you record or play back tracks. Start with the default
setting and make adjustments as needed.
The ins and outs of inputs and outputs
Figure 3-3:
Set your
system’s
routings
from the I/O
Setup dialog
box.
Input
From the Input tab of the I/O Setup dialog box, choose and change the name
of the inputs coming from your Digidesign hardware. Simply clicking the Default
button brings up the inputs of the hardware that you connected. To change the
name of any of the inputs, double-click the current name, type in your new one,
and then press Return/Enter. Whatever name you choose shows up in the Input
section of the channel strip in the Mix and Edit windows.
Book II
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Examining Software
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Pro Tools allows you to assign your Input, Output, Insert, and Bus routings
as you want. You do this within the I/O Setup dialog box, as shown in Figure 3-3.
Choose Setup➪I/O Setup to get there.
166
Getting Set Up
Customizing the names of your inputs and outputs makes setting up sessions
and remembering where everything is routed much easier. For example, if
you use the S/PDIF inputs as your main microphone inputs (you’d have an
external preamp and an A/D converter between your mic and the interface),
you can name them mic 1 and mic 2 instead of S/PDIF.
Instead of choosing the default setup, you can start from scratch and set up
your own Input routings by clicking the New Path or New Sub-Path buttons.
You can also delete paths if you choose. Additionally, you can import or
export routing settings by clicking the Import Settings or Export Settings
buttons. This can save you time if you have custom settings that you want to
use in all your sessions.
Output
Clicking the Default button on the Output tab of the I/O Setup dialog box displays the outputs of the hardware connected to your system. Like with the
Input tab of the I/O Setup dialog box, you can change names for the outputs
if you want. The Output tab, however, has three additional options, as shown
in Figure 3-4. These options do the following:
✦ Controller Meter Path: This is the output assigned to the master meter
in the Mix window. From this drop-down menu, you can assign any hardware or bus outputs as main outputs so you can know what the levels are.
✦ Audition Paths: This is the output where audio regions — the representations of the audio files in your tracks — play. (Book IV, Chapter 1 has
more on audio regions.)
✦ New Track Default Output: Choosing your main output here automatically places this output in every track that you open in your session.
Making your main output your default output means that you don’t have
to choose an Output setting in the Mix or Edit windows whenever you
create a new track.
Figure 3-4:
The Output
tab of the
I/O Setup
dialog box
includes
additional
parameters.
Dealing with Sessions
167
Insert
Use the Insert tab of the I/O Setup dialog box to set the routing for any
of your insert effects, such as compressors and limiters. (See Book VI,
Chapter 4 for more on insert effects.)
Bus
The Bus tab of the I/O Setup dialog box has the 32 available buses for your
send/return effects, such as reverb. (Check out Book VI, Chapter 5 for more
on send/return effects.)
Click the Default button for all the settings in the various tabs of the I/O
Setup dialog box, and you’ll be up and running quickly.
Before you can do any recording, editing, or mixing in Pro Tools, you have to
set up a session in which to work. A session in Pro Tools is simply a song file
that contains all the audio and MIDI tracks, plug-ins, and mixer settings for
all your tracks. Session files don’t actually contain the audio data; instead,
they just have the audio files attached to them.
Creating a new session
To create a new session, choose File➪New Session from the main menu or
press Ô+N (Mac) or Ctrl+N (PC). A dialog box appears, as shown in Figure
3-5, where you can choose the following.
✦ Save As: This is where you type the name of this new song.
✦ File location: You can choose where you want to save the file on your hard
drive. I recommend that you use the handy New Folder button to create a
new folder for storing the session file and that you name the folder the
same as your session file. This makes a session easy to find on your hard
drive — especially if you haven’t worked on the session for a while.
✦ Audio File Type: This drop-down menu lets you choose between BWF
(Broadcast WAV File), AIFF, or SDII files. Choose the one that works best for
you. (I always use BWF files because they’re compatible with other software
I use. Your needs might be different.) If you aren’t transferring your files
from one program to another, I suggest using the default BWF option.
✦ Sample Rate: Here, you choose the sample rate of your session. Your
options depend on the Digidesign hardware you have. For example, if
you have a Digi 001 or an Mbox, your choices are between 44.1 kHz and
48 kHz. If you have a Digi 003 or 003 Rack, you can choose between 44.1
kHz, 48 kHz, 88.2 kHz, and 96 kHz.
Examining Software
Basics
Dealing with Sessions
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168
Dealing with Sessions
Figure 3-5:
The New
Session
dialog box is
where you
set up a
new song
file.
✦ Bit Depth: Here, you can choose between a 16 bit-rate and a 24-bit rate.
Select the 24 Bit radio button.
✦ I/O Settings: From this drop-down menu, you can choose between the
most recently used setting or a stereo-mix setting.
The higher the sample rate you select in the New Session dialog box, the
more work your computer processor has to do. You often have to balance
your desire for the highest-resolution music possible against the capabilities
of your system.
The sample rate you choose depends on your goals, intended final format
(CD, for example), and the speed of your computer’s processor. For example,
if your session is going to have a ton of tracks and end up on a CD, your best
bet is to choose 44.1 kHz because that’s where you’ll end up when you record
to CD. Keep in mind, too, that using a whole slew of tracks means that your
computer needs as much processing power as possible to handle mixing and
processing tasks. In this case, recording at 96 kHz would likely put too much
strain on your computer and deprive you of the power to do what you want
during mixing.
Dealing with Sessions
169
On the other hand, if you suspect you won’t use very many tracks and want
the highest resolution possible — or if you have a very powerful computer
and won’t go crazy creating multiple tracks — 88.2 kHz or 96 kHz might
better meet your goals.
I recommend getting to know your system before you record a lot of music
with it. Experiment with different sample rates and track counts to see what
your computer can handle. With this information, you can get a good sense
of how hard you can push your system before you reach the limits of its
performance.
Opening sessions
If you have a session with more than 24 tracks and you want to keep those
additional tracks, don’t open it in a Pro Tools version earlier than 5.3 (or if you
do, don’t save it there) because any additional tracks will be lost when you
click Save.
Figure 3-6:
The Open
Session
dialog box.
Examining Software
Basics
To open a session, choose File➪Open Session from the main menu or press
Ô+O (Mac) or Ctrl+O (PC). The Open Session dialog box appears, as shown
in Figure 3-6. Choose the file you want to open and then click Open.
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Dealing with Sessions
Saving sessions
You have three options for saving sessions in Pro Tools: Save Session, Save
Session As, and Save Session Copy In. As well, you can always return to a
previously saved version of your session with the Revert to Saved command.
These options are detailed in the next sections.
Save Session
This is the same Save command that you find in any computer program. As
usual, you choose File➪Save to save your session. You can also initiate a
save by pressing Ô+S (Mac) or Ctrl+S (PC).
I highly recommend that you get used to saving from the keyboard often to
prevent losing any data while you work. You can also turn on the Auto Save
function and have Pro tools save your session automatically. Here’s how:
1. Choose Setup➪Preferences to access the Preferences dialog box.
2. On the Operations tab, select the Enable Session File Auto Backup
check box.
Save Session As
Choose File➪Save Session As to save your session with a new name and/or
location. Figure 3-7 shows the Save Session As dialog box.
Use Save Session As to save a variation of a session that you’ve been working
on. I do this a lot when I’m mixing because this way, I can have a bunch of
different mixes to choose from. The good thing about this command is that
it saves only the session data and not the audio or MIDI files, so the session
won’t take up much room on your hard drive.
Figure 3-7:
Choose the
session
name and
location
here.
Dealing with Sessions
171
Save Session Copy In
If you want to transfer your files from one program to another (Pro Tools to
Logic, for example), using the Save Session Copy In command can be useful.
Choosing File➪Save Session Copy In opens the dialog box you see in Figure 3-8.
Here, you can change the filename, location, and file type, among other options:
✦ Session Format: From this drop-down menu, choose the Pro Tools version
you want to save in. Your options include the current version as well as
PT5.1–6.9, PT5, PT4 24bit, PT4 16bit, and PT 3.2.
Keep in mind that you might lose some data if you save this session in
an earlier version.
✦ Items to Copy: The Items to Copy section includes options for audio
files, plug-in settings, and movie or video files that might be part of the
session. If you plan on taking this session to another computer, use
Items to Copy function when you choose what you want to copy.
Figure 3-8:
The Save
Session
Copy In
dialog box
allows you
to change
the type of
file your
session is
formatted in.
Book II
Chapter 3
Examining Software
Basics
✦ Session Parameters: Use this section of the dialog box to choose the
audio file type, sample rate, and bit depth. You can choose from the same
options that you had when you first opened the session. Here, you can
also choose to force Mac/PC compatibility. If you want to share this
session between a Mac and a PC, you need to select the Enforce Mac/PC
Compatibility check box. Personally, I leave this check box enabled all
the time just in case I want to transfer my sessions back and forth
between a Mac and a PC.
172
Dealing with Sessions
Relying on Revert to Save
The Revert to Save command (choose File➪Revert to Save) is a handy feature if you did a bunch of work since you last saved your session and want
to undo it without having to use the Undo command (located under Edit
menu) to backtrack through the steps and undo each one.
Personally, if I’m in the position of wanting to undo a bunch of stuff and
haven’t used the Save command since starting those changes, I choose to
save the session with the Save As command. This way, I have those changes
just in case I do decide to keep them. If I go that route, the changes will be
sitting in a separate session file, safe and (ahem) sound.
Using and creating a session template
To make your life easier, you can create a session template with all the
options you want already in place — track settings, window views, mixer settings, and so on — so all you have to do when you open a new session is
open the template and save it with your new session name.
A variety of session templates comes with your Pro Tools Hardware. To use
them, choose the Pro Tools LE Session Templates folder from the Software
CD-ROM and drag it onto your hard drive. Open the template session and
rename it as your new session. You can use this folder for all your templates
so that finding them again is easy. Choose File➪Open session from the main
menu, select the template folder from the Open Session dialog box, and
scroll to the template you want to use.
To prepare a template, start by opening a new session and then creating
your session as you want. After you set all the options to your liking, save
the session file with a name that you’ll remember (like killer session template
1) so you can find it easily.
To transform the session file you saved into a session template, use the
following steps for a Mac or a PC.
Session templates for a Mac
Heads up, you Mac users out there:
1. Click the file to highlight it.
2. Press Ô+I or choose File➪Get Info from the main menu.
The General Information window opens, as shown in Figure 3-9.
Dealing with Sessions
173
3. Select the Stationery Pad check box and then close the window.
Your template is saved in the location that you chose when you opened
the session.
To open your template, choose it from the list that appears after you choose
File➪Open Session (from the main menu).
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Examining Software
Basics
Figure 3-9:
Use the
General
Information
window to
create a
session
template on
a Mac.
Session templates for a PC
PC users, here’s the drill:
1. Right-click the file icon and then choose Properties from the contextual
menu.
The Properties dialog box appears.
2. Select the Read Only check box under Attributes, at the bottom of the
page.
3. Press OK to close the Properties dialog box.
Your session file is turned into a template, and it remains located in its
original folder.
To open your template, choose it from the list that appears after choosing
File➪Open Session from the main menu.
174
Getting to Know Audio and MIDI Files
Getting to Know Audio and MIDI Files
Every time you click the Record button with a track engaged (as I describe in
Book III, Chapter 1, where you can find more on tracks) you create an audio
or MIDI file. This section walks you through what these files are and how to
deal with them.
Understanding audio files
An audio file is the data created from recording onto an audio track. Audio
files in Pro Tools are regions. You can import, export, and edit these regions
in a staggering variety of ways. (Book VI shows you many of the ways to edit
audio.) Whenever you create a new audio file, this region is added to the
Regions list, where you can manage it (as shown in Figure 3-10). The Regions
list is located on the right side of the Edit window. If the list isn’t visible,
click the double arrows at the bottom-right of the Edit window. This expands
the Edit window to include the Regions list view.
Meeting MIDI files
MIDI files are created whenever (you guessed it) you record MIDI data into
a MIDI track. MIDI tracks don’t contain actual sounds; instead, they consist
of the MIDI performance and system instructions used to control a MIDI
instrument. To have the MIDI data become sound, you have to record the
output of your MIDI sound module (what it does in response to the MIDI file’s
instructions) onto an audio track. Then these sounds are contained in an
audio file.
Figure 3-10:
Audio files
created by
recording
into an
audio track
show up in
the Regions
list.
Getting to Know Audio and MIDI Files
175
MIDI files show up in the Regions list (along with your session’s audio files),
where you can mange them. MIDI regions have a small circular MIDI jacktype icon (shown on the left side in Figure 3-11) to help you identify them.
You can choose to see only the MIDI regions in the Regions list (as shown in
Figure 3-11) by choosing Show from the Regions drop-down menu and the
selecting the MIDI option (or by clearing the Audio, Auto Generated, and
Groups options).
Figure 3-11:
Find MIDI
files in the
Regions list
in the Edit
window.
Book II
Chapter 3
Whenever you open a session in Pro Tools, the program has to go out and find
all the audio and MIDI files associated with that session before the session will
actually open. If Pro Tools can’t find the files — you moved them, for instance —
the Missing Files dialog box opens. There, you can choose to skip the file, let
Pro Tools search for it automatically, or search for it manually. (See Figure 3-12
for a look at the Missing Files dialog box.) I always choose the automatic-search
option — it finds the missing file nearly every time. The only time that hasn’t
worked for me is when I’ve moved a file to another hard drive. (Then I select
the Manually Find & Relink radio button.)
Figure 3-12:
The Missing
Files dialog
box helps
you locate
truant files.
After your session opens, all the audio and MIDI files (regions) for that session
are displayed in the Audio Regions list in the Edit window. Not only can you
manage the files from these lists, but you can also import files that were originally recorded in another session — or even using another recording program
(such as Logic or Nuendo).
Examining Software
Basics
Finding your session files
176
Book II: Getting Started Using Pro Tools
Chapter 4: Understanding
the Pro Tools Windows
In This Chapter
Looking at the Transport window
Examining the Mix window
Discovering the Edit window
R
ecognizing that recording is a complex process, Pro Tools gives you
three distinct windows in which to work: Transport, Mix, and Edit. Each
window performs a certain set of functions and gives you control of a specific
set of details. These are outlined in this chapter. These windows are the heart
and soul of Pro Tools. The more comfortable you are navigating them, the
easier life will be as you create your masterpieces.
Tackling the Transport Window
At its most basic level, the Transport window — see Figure 4-1 — acts like
the transport mechanism of a tape deck that moves the tape past the record
and playback heads: It controls the digital processes that correspond to
recording, playing, stopping, rewinding, and so on. On a deeper level, however, it also offers a host of other functions. This section details all the
Transport window’s functions.
Figure 4-1:
The
Transport
window
acts like
tape deck
controls.
Adjusting the Transport window
Some people salivate at the thought of information overkill, while others live
by the maxim, “Less is more.” Pro Tools is smart enough to accommodate
178
Tackling the Transport Window
both schools of thought. In case you don’t want all the information (and the
accompanying clutter) present in the Transport window as shown in Figure
4-1, you can show or hide parts of it as you choose. You can find the commands for paring down the size of the Transport window under the View
menu at the top of the main Pro Tools window. Just choose View➪Transport
and then choose from the options listed — Counters, MIDI Controls, and
Expanded — as shown in Figure 4-2.
Figure 4-2:
Adjust the
Transport
window
from the
View menu.
Basic controls
The upper-left portion of the Transport window is home to your basic, traditional transport controls. If you honed your recording skills on a tape deck,
you’ll be right at home. Taking a look at Figure 4-3, you’ll find (going from left
to right) the following:
Figure 4-3:
The Basic
controls.
✦ Online: Engaging this button allows you to control record and playback
with an external device. Before you can use this feature, you need to
connect your device and specify its synchronization settings in Pro
Tools. (Check out the Synchronization section of the Pro Tools Reference
guide that came with your software for details on how to do this.)
✦ Return to Zero: Clicking this button takes you back to the beginning of
the session. You can also press Return/Enter if you prefer to use your
keyboard instead of the mouse.
✦ Rewind: Clicking this button “rewinds” the session in one of two ways,
providing a fine-tuned control that’s really hard to get with the mechanics
of a tape deck:
Tackling the Transport Window
179
• Click Rewind and hold down the mouse button. The session rewinds
until you release the mouse button. One cool thing about this way of
rewinding is that when you release the Rewind button, a marker is
placed in the song, and all you have to do to rewind back to that point
is hit the Stop button. The session goes right back to that point. (This
is great if you want check the same spot several times — for example,
to make sure that new guitar part comes in right on cue.)
• Click the button. Each click rewinds the session a prescribed amount,
depending on the time-scale setting displayed in your main counter
(more about that in the next section). For example, if you have your
main counter set up to display bars (measures) and beats, clicking
the Rewind button moves the session back one bar of music. If you
have min:seconds or samples showing in the display, the session
moves back in one-second increments.
✦ Play: Clicking the Play button starts the session. Simply clicking the
Play button (or pressing the spacebar) starts playback; clicking the
Record button first and then the Play button starts recording, as long as
you have a track enabled to record. Book III, Chapter 3 covers this in
detail.
✦ Fast Forward: To move quickly through the session, just use the Fast
Forward button. You can use Fast Forward one of two ways:
• Press Fast Forward and hold down the mouse button. The session fastforwards until you release the mouse button. Depending on whether
you were playing the session when you press and hold the button or
the session was stopped, releasing the Fast Forward button can
either return you to play mode or stop the session at that point.
• Click the button. Each click forwards the session a prescribed amount
based upon the time scale setting displayed in your main counter (see
the next section). For example, if you have your main counter set up to
display bars and beats, clicking the Fast Forward button moves the session forward one bar of music. If you have min:seconds or samples set
in the display, the session moves forward by one-second increments.
✦ Go to End: Clicking this button takes you to the end of the session. If
you don’t want to use your mouse, you can also press Option+Return
(Mac) or Ctrl+Enter (PC).
✦ Record: Clicking the Record button readies your session to record any
enabled tracks. (Book III, Chapter 3 talks about this more.) You need to
have at least one track enabled for this function to work. You’ll be alerted
if you don’t. If you don’t want to use the mouse, you can ready recording
by pressing Ô+spacebar (Mac) or Ctrl+spacebar (PC). To actually
record, you need to click the Play button after clicking Record.
Understanding
the Pro Tools
Windows
✦ Stop: Clicking Stop simply stops the session. (You can get the same thing
done much faster, though, by pressing the spacebar on your keyboard —
no fumbling with the mouse required.)
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Tackling the Transport Window
In addition to readying recording, you can toggle through the different
Record modes by pressing the Control key while you click with your
mouse (Mac) or right-click (PC). These Record modes are covered in
detail in Book III, Chapter 4, but here is an overview:
• Nondestructive: This Record mode is indicated (rather subtly) by not
showing an icon in the Record button; it doesn’t delete any previous
takes (a recorded performance) on that track.
• Destructive: This mode — indicated by a small D in the center of the
Record button — records over the track, destroying any previous
takes as it does so.
Don’t use Destructive mode unless you absolutely don’t want the
previous take, because it’s gone forever.
• Loop: This mode — indicated by a loop graphic inside the Record
button — allows you to repeatedly record over a selected section of
your track (called, curiously enough, a loop). It’s a handy function if
you have a section that might need more than one try to get right
because when you’re done recording a take, it returns you to the
start of the looped section and begins recording over again. Each
loop through the section is saved and added to your track’s playlist
where you can choose the best one later.
• Quick-punch: This mode is indicated by a P in the center of the Record
button. Quick-punch allows you to automatically punch in and out of
a section of a song. For example, if your bass player just laid down a
killer part except for two lousy notes, you can rerecord just those notes
on the fly by punching in (start recording) just before the notes and
punching out (stop recording) right after them.
Counters
The Counters section of the Transport window tells you where you are in the
session. This section contains only the main counter for your session.
If the Counters section isn’t visible, choose View➪Transport➪Counter (to
see the main counter) — or View➪Transport➪Expanded (to see the rest of
the counters listed in this section). Figure 4-4 shows how the Transport
window looks with both these options selected.
Figure 4-4:
The
Counters
and
Expanded
sections.
Tackling the Transport Window
181
The Counters section of the Transport window is home to the main counter,
which is located in the center of the window and shows where you are in the
session. There is a drop-down menu located to the right of this counter where
you can choose the format — bars:beats, min:seconds, samples — to be
displayed. Simply click the white triangle and choose the format you desire.
Expanded
The Expanded section of the Transport window shows a secondary counter
for your session as well as additional goodies to help you get around your
session. These include pre- and post-roll setting; a transport master selector
for synchronizing Pro Tools with other devices; and start, end, and length
times for selections. These are all shown in Figure 4-4.
✦ Secondary counter: Below the main counter is a secondary counter
for your session. You can select the format displayed by opening the
drop-down menu to the right of the counter. Again, your choices are
bars:beats, min:seconds, and samples. This lets you have two different
counters displayed at one time, which is handy if you want to see where
you are in your session in two different formats, such as min:seconds
and bars:beats.
✦ Pre-roll: Pre-roll allows you to choose an amount of time that the session
plays before the timeline of your session begins or wherever you have the
Start cursor. This is useful if you use a click track (the equivalent of an
electronic metronome) or want to do some punch recording; whoever’s
playing can use it to get used to the tempo before you start to record. (See
the “MIDI controls” section, later in this chapter, for more on using a click
track. See Book III, Chapter 4 for more on punch recording.)
You choose the amount of your pre-roll by clicking in the value in the
Pre-roll counter and then either typing a new value or (with the mouse
button held down) scrolling up or down. Engage the Pre-roll function by
clicking the Pre-roll button next to the counter.
✦ Post-roll: Post-roll is pretty much like Pre-roll except that in this case
(surprise, surprise), you tack on a specified amount of time after the
session ends (or wherever the timeline End point is set).
You choose the length of your post-roll by clicking in the value in the
Post-roll counter and typing a new value — or, with your mouse held
down, scrolling up or down. Engage the Post-roll function by clicking
the Post-roll button next to the counter.
✦ Transport Master: The drop-down menu of the Transport Master box
lets you choose a specific device to be the “master” of the main Transport
functions (play, record, stop, and so on). You find two sub-menus here:
Transport and Online. In the Transport sub-menu, you can choose the
Understanding
the Pro Tools
Windows
The Expanded section of the Transport window contains the following display extras:
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Tackling the Transport Window
Transport Master from several options, including MMC (MIDI Machine
Control), MIDI, and Machine. (Machine refers to the Digidesign Machine
Control software, which you have to buy from Digidesign. This is used for
post-production and film work.) From the Online sub-menu, you can
choose to bring specific devices on- or off-line. The devices available will
depend on the currently selected Transport Master.
If you want to get into synchronizing Pro Tools with other devices, check
out the Digidesign reference manual for details on how to do this. If you
have no other control devices synchronized to Pro Tools, then this box
reads Transport = Pro Tools.
✦ Start: Use the Start counter to set the beginning of a range within which
you can play or record. You choose this starting point by clicking in the
counter window and then typing in the value, or clicking and holding
with your mouse (scrolling up or down to get the value you want).
✦ End: The End counter shows you where the play or record range ends.
You can choose this endpoint by clicking in the counter window and then
typing in the value, or clicking and holding with your mouse (scrolling
up or down to get the value you want).
✦ Length: The Length counter shows the length of the play range created
with the Start and End counters. Like with the other counters, you can
type in a value by clicking in the counter window first, or you can click
and hold your mouse button while you scroll up or down.
Typing in a value other than what is shown after you set the Start and
End counter changes the placement of the End counter.
MIDI controls
The MIDI controls section is located on the right side of the Transport
window. (If it’s not showing in your Transport window, choose View➪
Transport➪MIDI Controls.) The MIDI Controls section, as shown on the right
side of Figure 4-5, includes the following.
Figure 4-5:
The MIDI
controls
section
of the
Transport
window.
Tackling the Transport Window
183
✦ Wait for Note: Clicking this button lets Pro Tools know it should wait to
start recording until it receives a musical note from a MIDI device. This
allows you to ensure that your first note is precisely at the beginning of
the recorded section.
✦ Click: Clicking this button turns on and off the metronome signal sent
through the MIDI out of your MIDI interface.
Double-clicking this button opens the Click/Countoff Options dialog box
(see Figure 4-6) where you can choose various Click parameters, including
when the click sounds, what note it transmits, and what MIDI port
(output) it uses.
Book II
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Understanding
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Figure 4-6:
Choose
click and
countoff
settings for
your
session.
✦ Countoff: Clicking this button turns on and off a specified count-off of
the length chosen at the bottom of the Click/Countoff dialog box (see
Figure 4-6). (Double-clicking the Countoff button opens this dialog box.)
You can set the countoff to sound only during recording or during both
recording and playback. You type in the length of this count-off in the
Bars text box in the Click/Countoff Options dialog box. This number
shows up in the Countoff button after the dialog box is closed.
✦ MIDI Merge: With this selector, you can either merge your recorded
MIDI data with existing MIDI data on the record-enabled track or erase
the existing data and replace it with the new stuff. Engaging the button
lets you merge data.
✦ Conductor: Clicking this button turns on the tempo map defined in the
Tempo line of the Edit window. (See “Examining the Edit Window,” later
in this chapter, for more on the Tempo line.) You create this map by
double-clicking the Meter button (described next).
Alternatively, you can disable this button and choose a tempo by manually
entering it (more about choosing the tempo in a minute).
184
Examining the Edit Window
✦ Meter: This button shows you the time signature for the present section
of the session. Double-click the time signature, and a dialog box opens,
allowing you to specify time signature (meter), tempo, and start point
for these values. With this dialog box, you can set up a tempo map, which
is a scheme describing tempo changes for your entire song, no matter
how complex. (Book III, Chapter 3 details how to create a tempo map.)
✦ Note: When the Conductor button is not engaged, the Note icon tells you
what value note the metronome is sounding. Click this icon, and a dropdown menu opens, letting you choose the value from whole notes to sixteenth notes.
✦ Tempo: With the Conductor button engaged, this box simply shows you
what tempo the current section of the session is in. With the Conductor
button disabled, you can manually enter any tempo you like. You can do
this in three ways:
• Type it in. Click in the box where the tempo is displayed, type in a
number (in beats per minute), and then press Return/Enter. The
metronome and counters play at this tempo.
• Slide it in. Adjust the horizontal slider located under the Conductor,
Meter, and Tempo buttons to choose your tempo. Slide to the right,
and you get a faster tempo; slide left for a slower one.
• Tap it in. By pressing the T key on your keyboard, you can set Pro
Tools to a tempo without having to know exactly how many beats
per minute you want. (This is a great feature for people who aren’t
comfortable with metronome numbers.)
Examining the Edit Window
The Edit window, as shown in Figure 4-7, is where you’ll do most of your
work. Here, everything is set up in a timeline so you can see what’s happening
in the session while it plays. This window contains a variety of tracking information, including inputs and outputs, sends, inserts, and automations data. The
Edit window also has the tools you need to do audio and MIDI data editing, such
as creating, arranging, and editing specific regions of an audio track.
The list is almost endless. Don’t fret though; everything you need to know to
use this window effectively is in this section.
Examining the Edit Window
185
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Figure 4-7:
The Edit
window
shows a
timeline of
all your
session
data.
Taking a look at track controls
Each track, whether audio or MIDI, is shown in the Edit window. These run
horizontally underneath the Timeline section of the window. Figure 4-8 gives
you a close-up view of the track section of the Edit window.
Basic controls
On the far left of the track section of the Edit window are some basic controls. These include the following:
✦ Track Name: Double-click this button (which shows the name of the
track) to open a window where you can the track’s name and also add
some comments. (All comments show up in the Comments section of
the expanded Edit window or in the Mix window.)
✦ Playlist selector: Click and hold this button to open a drop-down menu
that allows you to choose from edit playlists. (See Book IV, Chapter 1 for
more on editing playlists.)
✦ Record Enable: Click this button to enable the track for recording.
✦ Solo: Clicking this button solos a track — turns off the rest of the tracks —
in a mix.
186
Examining the Edit Window
Record Enable button
Track Name button
Solo button
Mute button
Playlist selector
Track Height selector
Figure 4-8:
The track
section of
the Edit
window
shows
information
on each
track in the
session.
Voice selector
Automation Mode selector
Track View selector
✦ Mute: Clicking this button turns off this track.
✦ Track View selector: Click and hold this button to open a menu that lets
you choose different views in the Timeline section of the track in the
session. Your options include Blocks, Waveform, Volume, Mute, and Pan.
✦ Track Height selector: Clicking this arrow opens a drop-down menu
from which you choose the height of the track data display. You choices
include Mini, Small, Medium, Large, Jumbo, Extreme, and Fit to Window.
✦ Automation Mode selector: Click and hold this button to open a menu
that lets you choose from various automation modes, including Off,
Read, Touch, Latch, and Write. Each of these display modes shows the
waveform in the background and the setting for the automation data in
the foreground. (Book VI, Chapter 6 has more on automation modes and
how to use them.)
✦ Voice selector: Clicking this button turns the track on and off. Click and
hold this button to choose between Dyn (the track is heard if it has data
in it) and Off (the track doesn’t sound, even if it has an audio or MIDI file
attached to it). Because Pro Tools LE allows you to have only 32 active
voices (24 on versions 5.3.1 and earlier), you can use this selector to
keep a track from occupying one of those voices.
Examining the Edit Window
187
Optional windows in the track section
You can enhance your Edit window view by adding information from the Mix
window for each track. Just choose View➪Edit Window➪All from the main
menu, and you’ll end up with something that looks like Figure 4-9. This is a
handy feature if you have only one monitor and you want to be able to see
the comments, inserts, sends, and I/O settings (or any combination) for each
track without having to open the Mix window. (Not sure what inserts, sends,
and I/O settings actually are? Don’t worry. I detail those in the “Managing the
Mix Window” section, later in this chapter.)
Book II
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Understanding
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Figure 4-9:
The
expanded
view of the
channel
strip in the
Edit menu.
One of the really cool things in this section of the expanded window is that
you can actually open a channel strip for an individual track by clicking the
small fader icon located at the lower right of the I/O settings window. Click
the icon again, and the channel strip disappears. Figure 4-10 shows the channel strip after being called up from the Edit window. (This feature is so
handy that I rarely use the Mix window anymore.)
Figure 4-10:
Click the
little fader
icon at the
bottom of
the I/O
settings
window,
and a
channel
strip pops
up.
188
Examining the Edit Window
Examining edit modes
Editing in Pro Tools is done on regions. Regions are representations of the
audio or MIDI files stored on your hard drive. What makes editing this way
so powerful is that when you change a region, you aren’t actually changing
the audio file itself. (There are some exclusions to this, which are covered in
Book IV, Chapters 3 and 4; and Book V, Chapter 3.) Instead, you’re changing
only how Pro Tools plays it back.
When you want to move regions around in Pro Tools, you have four edit modes
in which to work: Shuffle, Spot, Slip, and Grid, as shown in Figure 4-11. These
are located in the upper-left corner of the Edit Window. The following list
describes each of these modes.
Figure 4-11:
The four edit
modes in
Pro Tools.
✦ Shuffle: In this mode, you can shuffle a region and place it automatically
at the end of the nearest region. For example, if you want to move the
second bar of a four-bar phrase to the last bar, all you have to do is create
a separate region for each bar, grab it by clicking it with the Grabber tool,
and move it over to the end. (Book IV, Chapter 2 explains, in detail, how to
do this.) The third bar moves over to replace the second; the original
second bar snaps right to the end of the fourth bar. This mode is handy
for shuffling regions while making sure that you don’t have any overlap or
dead space between them.
✦ Spot: You can use this mode to designate the exact timeline placement
of a region you want to move. When you click a region with Spot mode
active, a dialog box pops up, asking you to enter the start point. Do so
and click OK; the selected region is placed right where you want it.
✦ Slip: Use this mode to move regions anywhere you want with your mouse
by selecting them any of the ways described in Book IV, Chapter 2. You
can have regions overlap or leave space between them, for instance.
✦ Grid: This mode enables you to move regions to a time grid — userdefined divisions of your session. You can set the time grid’s scale by
choosing Tools➪Grid Value in the main Edit window. You can choose
from two types of grids: Absolute and Grid. I detail these in Book IV,
Chapter 1.
For more detailed information on these edit modes, check out Book IV,
Chapter 1.
Examining the Edit Window
189
Zeroing in on Zoom controls
The Zoom controls (see Figure 4-12) are located next to the Edit Mode selectors.
Use these buttons to fit a good working view of your audio and MIDI regions
into your screen by specifying horizontal and vertical zoom (as the following
list makes clear).
Figure 4-12:
The Zoom
controls.
Book II
Chapter 4
✦ Vertical Zoom: These two center Zoom buttons control vertical zoom for
audio and MIDI: The button for audio is at center-left, and the one for MIDI
is at center-right. Clicking the arrow at the top of either button increases
the height of the display; clicking the arrow at the bottom decreases the
height.
✦ Zoom Presets: At the bottom of the Zoom Controls section are five
easily programmable presets. On a Mac, you simply Ô-click any one of
the five buttons to assign your present setting to that button. On a PC, a
Ctrl-click does the trick. The Zoom settings are saved, and you can recall
them by clicking the assigned preset number.
Elucidating edit tools
Pro Tools has some powerful editing features, easily accessible from the Edit
toolbar, found next to the Zoom controls at the top of the Edit window.
Figure 4-13 shows you what the toolbar icons for these tools look like, and
the following list tells you what the tools can do for you.
✦ Zoomer: The Zoomer tool does much the same thing as the Horizontal
Zoom tool, with a handy editing advantage: It zooms right to the point
that you click with your mouse or the area you click and drag across.
✦ Standard Trimmer: This tool lets you change the size of a region by
clicking the beginning or end of the region and then sliding it to where
you want it.
Understanding
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✦ Horizontal Zoom: These outer two Zoom buttons control the horizontal
zoom of the timeline as well as all audio and MIDI tracks and regions.
Clicking the left button narrows the view; clicking the right button
lengthens it.
190
Examining the Edit Window
Selector
Standard Trimmer
Figure 4-13:
Pro Tools
Edit tools
provide lots
of editing
power.
Grabber
Scrubber
Zoomer
Pencil
Smart Tool button
✦ Selector: Use the Selector tool to highlight a spot within a region so you
can cut, paste, or do whatever you want with it. All you have to do is
click and drag the mouse over the section you want to select.
✦ Grabber: In general terms, the Grabber tool lets you grab a region to
move around your session. It has two options (which you can view if
you click and hold the mouse button with the pointer over the tool): the
Time and the Separation tools. (Note: Whichever tool you used last is
the default tool until you select the other.)
• Time: The Time Grabber tool lets you select an entire region and
then move it anywhere within (and between) tracks. You simply click
the region with your mouse, hold down the button, and then drag the
region to where you want it.
• Separation: The Separation Grabber tool lets you move a portion of a
region within or between tracks. To select a portion to move, use the
Selector tool described earlier in this list.
✦ Scrubber: Use the Scrubber tool to listen to a region without having to
play the entire track. To use this tool, click the region and drag it forward
to hear the audio play forward. Drag the mouse back along the region to
hear the audio play backward. This tool is handy when you want to
locate a specific note in the audio region.
✦ Pencil: Use the Pencil tool to redraw audio waveforms (great for drawing over clipped notes, for example); to do MIDI editing, such as inserting or deleting notes; or draw automation settings, among other things.
(Book IV, Chapter 3 explains waveform editing in detail.) Clicking and
holding this button opens a pop-up menu that offers seven Pencil types
(as shown in Figure 4-14) as well as the Customize Note Duration option
to use. (For more on custom note durations, see Book IV, Chapter 3.)
✦ Smart tool: This tool combines the functions of the Standard Trimmer,
Selector, and Grabber tools. It changes how the cursor works according
to where you are within a region, automatically becoming the appropriate
tool for that section. This keeps you from having to constantly switch
tools as you work. (Ah, progress.)
Examining the Edit Window
191
Figure 4-14:
The Pencil
tool has five
pencil
shape
options.
Looking at counter displays
Figure 4-15:
The counter
displays can
be set to
show
different
formats.
Evaluating the Event Edit area
Next to the counter displays are the Event Edit displays. (See Figure 4-16.)
These displays show the start point, end point, and length of a selected region
in the same format as the main counter display. (See the previous section for
more on counter displays.) If you choose a specific MIDI note to examine,
another window opens that shows you the pitch, note velocity, and release
velocity of that note.
You can use the display to choose particular regions by clicking in the
window and typing in the values you want. Press Return/Enter to activate
the selection.
Understanding
the Pro Tools
Windows
The Edit window has two distinct counter displays; for each display, you
have a choice among three different formats — bars and beats, minutes and
seconds, and samples — for showing where you actually are in the session.
You choose your format from a drop-down menu that you access by clicking
the small arrow located to the right of the display, as shown in Figure 4-15.
This is a handy feature for being able to see where you are in your session.
For example, I find that having my main counter to bars and beats, and the
secondary counter set to minutes and seconds helps me keep track of where
I am in the session and how that relates to the actual length of the tune. This
is especially important if I have a tune that has to conform to a certain time
limit (because I prefer to work in beats and bars).
Book II
Chapter 4
192
Examining the Edit Window
Figure 4-16:
The Event
Edit
displays.
Instead of typing start points and end points into the Event Edit display, you
can use the blue arrows in the Rulers section of the Edit window to choose
your start point and end point, as shown in Figure 4-17. Click and drag each
arrow to where you want it. You can also use the Selector tool and click and
drag across the area you want to select. Book IV, Chapter 2 explains these
options in detail.
Figure 4-17:
Select start
and end
points.
The Black Bar hodgepodge
You’ll find Edit Mode buttons, Zoom controls, Edit tools, Location displays,
and Event Edit displays — all the stuff I talked about so far in this chapter —
marching along the very top of the Edit window. Right beneath all these features,
however, is a thin black toolbar that plays host to yet another variety of useful
tools. (Refer to Figure 4-7 to see the black toolbar in all its glory.) The following
list gives you the goods on what each tool can do for you:
✦ Track View: Use the Track View tool to choose different view formats for
the Track section (the left-most column) of the Edit window. Clicking the
down arrow calls up a drop-down menu from which you can choose
Comments, Instrument, Inserts, Sends, I/O, Real-Time Properties, Track
Color, All, or None.
✦ Ruler View: Use the Ruler View tool to choose different view formats for
the Ruler section, which is the section running horizontally along the
top of the Edit window. Clicking the down arrow calls up a drop-down
menu, where you can choose to see Bars:Beats, Minutes:Seconds, Samples,
Markers, Tempo, Meter, Key Signatures, All, or None. The selection(s)
you make here appear in the Timebase ruler section of the Edit window.
(Check out the “Rulers rule!” section later in this chapter for details on
the Timebase ruler.)
Examining the Edit Window
193
✦ Linearity Display Mode: Click the Linearity Display Mode button to
choose how the Edit window shows your session timescale. You have
two options:
• Linear Sample Display: You see your session in samples.
• Linear Tick Display: You see your session in bars and beats.
✦ Tab to Transients: The Tab to Transients button, when engaged, allows
you to press the Tab key on your keyboard and move from transient to
transient in the highlighted audio track. (A transient, by the way, is the
loud initial attack that first attracts your attention to a sound.)
✦ Keyboard Focus: Clicking the Command Keyboard Focus button toggles
the Keyboard Focus option on and off. What is the Keyboard Focus
option, you ask? Well, here’s the short answer: This option allows you to
use your keyboard to perform shortcuts; for example, you can select
regions from the MIDI or audio lists (see the “Looking at lists” section
later in this chapter), perform an edit, or enable or disable groups. For
the long answer — as in, How do you actually use keyboard shortcuts? —
these shortcuts are interspersed throughout the book for each command as I describe them.
✦ Link Timeline and Edit Selection: By default, the Timeline and Edit
selections are linked so that if you choose a section to edit, the Timeline
start and end times coincide with the start and end times of this selection, as shown on the left in Figure 4-18. Sometimes you want to be able
to have a timeline setting remain unchanged as you select a different
place to edit, as on the right in Figure 4-18. (In this case, click the Link
Timeline and Edit Selection button once to turn linking off; click again to
turn linking back on.)
Figure 4-18:
The Link
Timeline and
Edit
Selection
button,
turned on
(left) and
turned off
(right).
Book II
Chapter 4
Understanding
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Windows
I love this feature for separating drum loops from a track. I simply
engage this button, locate my cursor close to the start of my loop, and
press the Tab key to go right at the start of the section I want to cut.
Without this feature, I’d be messing around for quite a while, finding the
exact start point of the part I want to separate.
194
Examining the Edit Window
✦ Link Track and Edit Selection: When you have the Link Track and Edit
Selection option engaged, making a selection in a track also highlights
the track itself. This allows you to select several tracks and make adjustments to these tracks, such as adding them to a group or toggling the
track view.
✦ Mirrored MIDI Editing: The Mirrored MIDI Editing function lets you
globally edit all MIDI regions with the same name. This means that if you
have a MIDI region that you use more than once per song and you want
to change them all, clicking this button lets you make the change only
once instead of for each time the region exists in your session.
✦ Grid Value: This display shows the value for the Edit window’s grid —
the boundary lines for your session. The grid boundary value appears in
the same format as the main time scale — bars:beats, min: seconds, or
samples — unless you choose otherwise from the drop-down menu,
where you also choose the boundary resolution for the grid itself. This is
a great function when you want to move regions around in a tune and
have them align to certain locations. For example, if I move drum
grooves, I can have them snap right to the beginning of a bar by setting
the grid value to 1 measure and moving the region close to the start of
the measure.
✦ Nudge Value: The Nudge Value display shows the setting for the distance that a region is moved with each press of the plus and minus keys
on your keyboard. Clicking the down arrow calls up a drop-down menu,
as shown in Figure 4-19, where you can choose this nudge value. Note
that you can choose a number of different ways how your distances are
to be measured — Bars:Beats, Min:Secs, Samples, or Regions/Markers.
✦ Cursor: The Cursor display tracks where your cursor is in the timeline
as well as the location of the sound wave in the selected track. (See
Figure 4-20.)
Figure 4-20:
The Cursor
display tells
you the
location of
the cursor in
the session.
Examining the Edit Window
195
Looking at lists
In the humdrum world, it’s hard to get excited about laundry lists and shopping
lists. In the world of Pro Tools, however, lists are something to crow about
because they can help you keep track of your tracks, audio regions, MIDI
regions, and groups.
The lists for your tracks, edit groups, audio files, and MIDI files are displayed
on either side of the Edit window. To keep track of — and/or manipulate —
any of these lists, you’re going to want to familiarize yourself with one more
list of features:
Figure 4-21:
Choose
which
tracks to
display in
the Edit and
the Mix
windows.
✦ Edit Groups: In Pro Tools, you can group selected tracks and perform an
edit on them all at the same time. This is called working with an Edit
Group. These groups are displayed in the Edit Groups list and clicking
the name of the group toggles the enabling of a group on and off. You can
also create, delete, modify, or suspend groups by clicking and holding the
Edit Groups title at the top of the groups list and then choosing an option
from the drop-down menu that appears, as shown in Figure 4-22.
Figure 4-22:
The Edit
Groups list
drop-down
menu.
Book II
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✦ Show/Hide Tracks: The Show/Hide Tracks list lets you choose which
tracks get displayed in your Edit and Mix windows. As shown in Figure
4-21, you can choose to show all tracks, hide all tracks, or to show/hide
only those tracks you already selected. This menu is opened by clicking
and holding over the Tracks title at the left side of the Edit window. (Refer
to Figure 4-7.) If the Show/Hide section of the window isn’t visible, click
the double arrows at the far lower left of the Edit window. The Show/Hide
and Edit Groups (see the next bullet) section appear.
196
Examining the Edit Window
✦ Regions: The Regions list in Pro Tools contains representations of the
audio and MIDI files associated with your session. The Regions list shows
all the audio and MIDI regions that are part of your session. You can do a
host of things to these regions, such as renaming, clearing, exporting,
and compacting.
These functions are performed by opening the drop-down menu shown
in Figure 4-23. To open this menu, click and hold the Regions title at the
top of the Regions list. If the Regions list isn’t open in your session, click
the double arrow at the bottom-right corner of the Edit window to open it.
Figure 4-23:
The Audio
Regions list
pop-up
menu has
many useful
functions.
Rulers rule!
Lists hover discretely to the left or right of the Edit window. Rulers (as you
might expect) lord over the top of the Edit window and are masters of all
they survey.
In Pro Tools-speak, rulers are actually referred to as Timebase rulers; they
show you where you are within the session (see Figure 4-24). The Timebase
Rulers section of the Edit window also lets you view the time, tempo, meter,
and markers of a session. The following list gives details on the four timelines.
Figure 4-24:
The
Timebase
Rulers
section
shows
where you
are in the
session.
Examining the Edit Window
197
✦ Time: You have a choice between the now-familiar formats of Bars:Beats,
Min:Secs, and Samples. By default, this timeline shows the same time
format as the main counter, but it’s easy to change to one of the other
formats. Just choose View➪Rulers and then choose the format you want
included in the Timebase Rulers section, as shown in Figure 4-25.
Figure 4-25:
View
different
rulers from
the Rulers
submenu.
Book II
Chapter 4
If you don’t plan on having any tempo changes and really don’t want to
see the Tempo timeline, you can hide it by choosing View➪Rulers from
the main menu and then deselecting the Tempo option.
✦ Meter: This timeline shows the meters (time signatures) contained in
your session. To change the meter, click the plus icon to the right of the
Meter title all the way to the right side of the figure. This opens the
Tempo Meter Change dialog box.
If you prefer not to see this timeline, you can hide it by choosing
View➪Rulers from the main menu and then deselecting the Meter option.
✦ Key: The Key timeline shows the musical key signature of the sections of
your session. Here, you can change the key of your song. Clicking the +
sign on the right of the key title opens the Key Change dialog box (seen
in Figure 4-26). Here, you can make any changes to the key signature of
your session.
If you prefer not to see this timeline, you can hide it by choosing
View➪Rulers➪Key Signature from the main menu and then deselecting
the Key Signature option.
Understanding
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Windows
✦ Tempo: The Tempo timeline shows you all the tempos and tempo changes
in your section. But there’s more! With the Tempo timeline, you can
quickly change the tempos in the session by clicking the plus sign to the
right of the Tempo title all the way to the right side of the figure. Doing so
opens the Tempo Meter Change dialog box, where you can enter a new
tempo for the session. Book III, Chapter 3 goes into detail about creating
Tempo changes in your session via the Tempo Editor.
198
Examining the Edit Window
✦ Markers: The Markers timeline shows the position of session markers.
(For more on session markers, see Book IV, Chapter 2.) Clicking the plus
icon to the right of the marker’s name opens a dialog box where you can
enter your marker information, as shown in Figure 4-27.
Markers are great for quickly locating sections of your tune. For example, pacing a marker at the start of the verses and choruses can make
moving between them a breeze. You can even use markers in Pro Tools
to recall visual settings (such as track height and zoom settings) or
record and playback options (such as pre- and post-roll times) as well as
enabling grouped tracks for speedy editing.
Figure 4-26:
You can
change
the Key
signature in
your session
from the Key
Change
dialog box.
Figure 4-27:
The New
Memory
Location
dialog box
lets you set
and define
marker
locations.
Managing the Mix Window
199
Managing the Mix Window
The Mix window is like a standard mixer, housing channel strips of each track
type available in Pro Tools. Not only do these track types include audio, MIDI,
auxiliary, and master tracks (as shown in Figure 4-28), but you can also choose
various views of the channel strips, from a basic view to expanded views
showing comments, inserts, and sends. Moreover, in addition to all your
channel strips, the Mix window can list all the tracks in your session, along
with any grouped tracks you might have created.
I know this sounds like a lot to keep track of (so to speak), but don’t worry. The
upcoming sections fill you in on all you need to know to keep things straight.
Book II
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Understanding
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Figure 4-28:
The Mix
window is
like a
regular
hardware
mixer.
200
Managing the Mix Window
Checking out channel strips
Each track in the Mix window has its own channel strip, and these channel
strips perform the same kinds of tasks you’d see channel strips doing in a
hardware mixer, such as volume control, panning, effects sends and inserts,
mute and solo switches, automation, input and output routing, and enabling
recording. The Mix window can handle pretty much any kind of track you
can imagine, including the track types covered in the next few sections.
Audio track
Your audio track is your basic meat-and-potatoes track, the main building
block in your sonic universe. Getting the audio track to do exactly what you
want takes a lot of work. Pro Tools is well aware of this fact, and therefore
provides you with a full-featured tool palette so you can take care of business.
More specifically, the audio track’s channel strip contains the following tools
(as shown from top to bottom in Figure 4-29):
✦ Input: Clicking the Input button opens a drop-down menu where you can
choose the sound source that feeds the track. It can either be a physical
input from your hardware interface, or it can be a bus (an internal signal
path; see Book I, Chapter 3 for more on buses). The hardware you use
(Digi 002, Mbox, or whatever) determines the number of inputs you have
to choose from.
✦ Output: This button controls the output of the track — where the sound
goes when it leaves the track. Like the input selector button (see the
preceding bullet), clicking it opens a menu that lets you choose from
either the hardware outputs of your interface or any of 16 buses (internal signal paths) available in Pro Tools.
✦ Automation Mode: In Pro Tools, automation means having certain mix
parameters — such as volume, panning, mute, send level, and insert
level — adjust dynamically throughout the session. Use this button to
choose between the different automation modes, including Off, Read,
Touch, Latch, or Write. (Book VI, Chapter 6 details these automation
modes.)
✦ Panning: Use the slider to pan your track to the left or right in the stereo
field, which is sort of the audio equivalent of a movie scene. (For more
on panning, see Book VI, Chapter 1.)
✦ Panning Display: This display shows you your track’s panning position —
its place left, right or center, in the stereo field.
✦ Solo/Mute: Clicking these buttons either solo or mute the track. (For
more on soloing/muting, see Book VI, Chapter 1.)
✦ Record Enable: Clicking the Record Enable button enables the track for
recording. When enabled, this button flashes red.
Managing the Mix Window
201
✦ Voice Dyn/Off: This selector lets you choose between
• Dynamic: The track plays if data is present.
• Off: The track does not play.
✦ Volume fader: This is the control for setting the volume of the audio
contained in this track.
✦ Velocity meter: This display, located to the right of the Volume fader,
shows you the volume (velocity, in Pro Tools-speak) of the track while
the music plays. Any notes above digital 0 show in red at the top of the
display.
✦ Track Type: This icon shows you what type of track it is. In Figure 4-29,
the small waveform lets you know that this is an audio track.
✦ Numerical Volume: This display shows you the volume of the track in
decibels.
✦ Track name: This tells you the name of the track. You can change the
name at any time by clicking the name and typing in a new one.
Output
Input
Automation Mode
Panning sliders
Panning Display
Record Enable
Solo
Volume fader
Figure 4-29:
The Audio
Track
channel
strip has
many
features.
Voice Dyn/Off
Program Change
Numerical Volume
Mute
Velocity meter
Track Type icon
Track Name
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✦ Group: A little letter is present if this track is grouped with others. The
letter itself tells you which group the track is a part of. If the letter is
capitalized, the track belongs to more than one group. You can make
changes to the group by clicking the icon to open a dialog box.
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Managing the Mix Window
MIDI track
The MIDI track, as shown in Figure 4-30, shares many of the features of the
audio track, but some important differences exist, as the following list makes
clear:
✦ Input: The Input button lets you choose the MIDI input feeding this
track. Clicking the button opens a drop-down menu from which you can
choose the MIDI port and channel(s) that you want to receive MIDI data
from.
✦ Output: The Output button lets you choose the physical MIDI output
that you want to assign the track to — any of the 16 MIDI channels (or
choose All).
✦ Patch select: This button (located below the channel fader) lets you
change the sound that comes out of your MIDI hardware when a note is
played. Clicking this button opens the MIDI Patch Select dialog box, in
which you enter the program number or name of the sound to want the
track to play. This lets you change sounds throughout the session.
✦ Track type: This MIDI track icon looks like a MIDI port.
Input
Output
Figure 4-30:
The MIDI
Track
channel
strip lets
you control
the MIDI
track easily.
Track Type icon
Instrument track
The instrument track, as shown in Figure 4-31, is a blend of the audio and
MIDI tracks. Here’s how it lays out:
✦ Instruments Section: You can open this section of the Instrument Track
channel strip by choosing View➪Mix➪Instrument. This expands the top
of the mix window to include controls for choosing your instrument
Managing the Mix Window
203
source. You can see this at the top of Figure 4-31. You have the following
options here:
• MIDI Input selector: Use this Input button to choose the MIDI input
feeding this track. Clicking the button opens a drop-down menu from
which you can choose the MIDI port and channel(s) from which you
want to receive MIDI data.
• MIDI Output selector: Use this Output button to choose the MIDI
output to which you want to assign the track — any of the 16 MIDI
channels (or choose All).
• MIDI volume: Clicking this icon brings up the MIDI fader with which
you can adjust the velocity traveling through the MIDI port.
• MIDI Velocity meter: This tiny meter shows you a visual representation of the velocity of the MIDI in the track.
• MIDI Pan slider: This pans your MIDI data left or right.
✦ Inserts: These function just like inserts for audio tracks except you can
also choose an instrument from the drop-down menu to create the
sound if you want to use a software synthesizer. (See Book I, Chapter 4
for more on software synthesizers.)
✦ Sends: Just like with audio tracks, you assign sends to the sounds
coming from the track.
✦ Input: The Input button functions the same as an audio track where you
select the hardware inputs for this track. This allows you to have a MIDI
device connected through the Instruments section tools at the top of the
channel strip while also having the audio outputs of the device, such as
a synthesizer, input into this track.
✦ Output: Use the Output button to choose the physical audio output to
which you want to assign the track: the same as with an audio track.
✦ Patch select: This button (located below the channel fader) lets you
change the sound that comes out of your MIDI hardware (connected via
the Instrument section listed above) when a note is played. Clicking this
button opens the MIDI Patch Select dialog box, in which you enter the
program number or name of the sound to want the track to play. This
allows you to change sounds throughout the session.
✦ Track type: This instrument track icon looks like five notes of a music
keyboard.
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• MIDI Mute button: This mutes the MIDI data from triggering your
device.
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Managing the Mix Window
Auxiliary input track
An auxiliary input track is a track that you can use for grouped audio — or
for MIDI tracks, effects sends, submixes, alternative mixes, monitor mixes,
and so on. Auxiliary tracks are similar to audio tracks and have the same
functions except that you don’t have a Record Enable button because these
tracks don’t actually contain any audio. Instead, they are used only for routing other tracks through them. The Track Type icon is a blue down arrow.
Figure 4-32 shows a typical auxiliary track’s channel strip.
Figure 4-31:
The
instrument
track is a
blend of an
audio and a
MIDI track.
Master Fader track
The Master Fader track lets you control where your other tracks are sent.
This track’s channel strip is much simpler than the others; all it really does
is add the other tracks. The features include just the outputs, automation
modes, fader and velocity display, and the Groups button.
Managing the Mix Window
Figure 4-32:
The
Auxiliary
Track
channel
strip is used
for effects
sends, submixes, and
monitor
mixes.
205
Track Type icon
Figure 4-33:
The Master
Track
channel
strip
controls the
master track
functions.
Track Type icon
Stereo and mono
Each of the tracks can either be in monaural or stereo. Stereo tracks differ
from mono tracks: They have two panning sliders and two velocity displays
showing. Figure 4-34 shows a stereo track.
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The Track Type icon for a Master Fader track is a sigma (∑). Figure 4-33
shows a Master Fader Track’s channel strip.
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Managing the Mix Window
Figure 4-34:
A stereo
track
channel
strip looks
very similar
to a mono
track.
Stereo audio tracks take up two voices in your system. (As you can read in
Book III, Chapter 1, any audio track that’s active takes up a voice.) Because
you can have a total of only 32 voices playing in any one session at one
time, you need to choose your stereo tracks wisely.
Expanding the channel strips view
You can add three additional views to your channel strips by choosing
View➪Mix Window from the main menu and then choosing Comments,
Inserts, and/or Sends. Figure 4-35 shows you what you can expect to see, and
the next few sections tell you the particulars for each view.
Comments view
With this option, you can add comments to each track by just click the
Comments box and type in your comments. This can be helpful for keeping
track of info, such as microphones used, edits performed, or anything that
can keep you organized while mixing.
Inserts view
The Inserts view section of the channel strip displays any inserted DSPs
(Digital Signal Processors) that you have for each track — usually effects
such as compression or delay. Click the arrows in the window to open a
drop-down menu where you can choose from the plug-ins in your system.
Figure 4-36 shows a typical list of these inserts. (Book VI, Chapters 4 and 5
have more on inserted effects.)
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207
Inserts View
Sends View
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Figure 4-36:
The Insert
drop-down
menu lets
you choose
your
inserted
effect.
Understanding
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Windows
Figure 4-35:
Channel
strips
can be
expanded to
include
views for
comments,
inserts, and
sends.
Comments View
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Managing the Mix Window
Sends view
The Sends View section of the channel strip lets you choose an effect bus to
send your track’s signal to. Clicking the arrows opens a pop-up menu (as
shown in Figure 4-37) where you choose the bus or interface output to send
your track’s signal. (If you use outboard effects, see Book VI, Chapter 5 for
more details.)
Figure 4-37:
Use the
Sends
window to
pick where
to send your
track’s
signal for
effects
processing.
Looking at lists: The Mix Window variant
Plenty of lists appear in the “Examining the Edit Window” section (earlier in
this chapter), but Pro Tools list-making capabilities crop up in the Mix
window as well. Aside from containing all the channel strips for your project,
the Mix window can also be set to list all the tracks in your session — as well
list any groups you created with those tracks. These lists show up on the left
side of the Mix window, as shown in Figure 4-38.
Show/Hide Tracks list
Going from top to bottom, the first list to the left of the Mix window is the
Show/Hide Tracks list. Each track of your session is listed in this list. With this
list, you can show or hide each track by simply selecting or deselecting it in
the list window. When you hide a selected track, the channel strip disappears
from the Mix window. This makes it easy to work with individual tracks or
groups of tracks by keeping your Mix window uncluttered. To show a hidden
track, click that track’s name in the Tracks list and watch it reappear.
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209
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Figure 4-38:
The
Show/Hide
Tracks list
and Groups
list allows
you to
organize
your tracks
in the Mix
window.
Groups list
The Groups list lets you create and manage grouped tracks — tracks that
you assigned together so that you can edit them together. To create groups
of tracks, hold down the Shift key down and then click the names of the tracks
in each channel strip to highlight them. After they’re highlighted, click and
hold the Edit Groups title. When a drop-down menu appears, choose New
Group; when a dialog box appears, enter a name for your new grouped track.
After you create a few groups, you can show or hide them in any combination
that you want.
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Working with Window Configurations
Working with Window Configurations
A window configuration is a saved setup of the various Pro Tools windows in
the size order and arrangement you choose. You can have a window configuration for when you record new tracks, when you edit, when you mix, and when
you master. In fact, in Pro Tools, you can create and save up to 99 different
window configuration variations. This is handy for speeding up your work
because you simply choose a configuration that you want instead of having to
open and close windows or resize them while you work.
As a long-time Logic user, this is one feature that I always missed when I
worked in Pro Tools. Now that Pro Tools has added window configuration, I
can move from window setup to window setup like I used to in that other
program. This makes me happy, and I’m sure that after you get a few window
configuration setups in your sessions, you’ll be happy (and more productive), too. The following sections help you do this.
Creating window configurations
Creating a window configuration is easy. Here are the steps:
1. Arrange the various windows in your session how you’d like to have
them saved.
This can include the Edit, Mix, Transport, plug-in, and any other window
that Pro Tools lets you open and move around in your session.
2. Choose Window➪Configurations➪New Configuration.
The New Window Configuration dialog box opens, as shown in Figure
4-39. Choose the options you want within this dialog box. (See the
following bulleted list for details about all the options in this dialog box.)
3. Click OK or press Return/Enter.
The New Window Configuration dialog box closes, and your settings are
saved.
From the New Window Configuration dialog box, choose which properties of
the windows you arranged in your session to save. These include the following:
✦ Number: This is the number of your window configuration. By default,
the next available number is entered into this box, but you can put any
number that you like between 1 and 99.
✦ Name: This is the name of your window configuration. Enter a descriptive name. I usually enter a name that represents the purpose of the configuration, such as Audio editing or Tracking.
Working with Window Configurations
211
Figure 4-39:
Use the
New
Window
Configuration dialog
box to save
your new
window
setup.
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✦ Include Edit, Mix, and Transport Display Settings: Selecting this check
box saves all the display settings for each window, such as whether
Inserts show in the Mix window.
If you choose to not select the Window Layout radio button, you can choose
from the options in the Filter View drop-down menu. These include
✦ Edit Window Display Settings: Choosing this option saves all window
display settings for the Edit window. These include
• Rulers, including the main ruler (which is always shown)
• Track list width and height
• Groups list and Regions list width
• Track columns that are shown, such as Comments, Inserts, and Sends
• The Tempo Edit display
• Transport controls
✦ Mix Window Display Settings: Selecting this option stores the display
settings for the Mix window, including
• Track list width and height
• Groups list width
• Mixer view (narrow or wide)
• Track rows that are shown, such as Sends, Inserts, and Comments
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✦ Window Layout: Selecting this radio button stores the arrangement of
all your open windows.
212
Working with Window Configurations
✦ Transport Window Display Settings: Choosing this option stores the
display settings for the Transport window. These include
• Counters
• MIDI controls
• Expanded view
✦ Comment: You can enter comments about your window configuration in
this field, such as reminders or descriptions of your settings.
Recalling window configurations
After you have window configurations saved, you can recall them easily. My
favorite way is to use keyboard shortcuts. Here’s how:
1. Press period (.) on the numeric keypad section of your keyboard.
2. Type the number of the window configuration you want to open.
3. Press the asterisk (*) in the numeric keypad section of your keyboard.
Your desired window configuration opens.
You can also select a saved window configuration by choosing Window➪
Configurations➪configuration name.
Managing window configurations
You can easily manage your window configurations from the Window
Configurations List window. You open the Window Configuration List window
by choosing Window➪Configurations➪Window Configuration List. You can
also open this window by pressing Ô+Option+J (Mac) or Ctrl+Alt+J (PC).
The window shown in Figure 4-40 opens.
Figure 4-40:
Use the
Window
Configurations List
to manage
window
configurations.
Working with Window Configurations
213
Window Configurations List window
The Window Configurations List window has many features that help you
work with your window configurations to make the most of them. Here’s a
quick rundown of the window:
✦ Name: This is the name of your window configuration. You enter the name
when you create a new window configuration. You can also change the
name by double-clicking it to open the Edit Window Configuration dialog
box (more on this in the next section, “Editing window configurations”).
✦ View filter icons: Use these icons to filter the window configurations
that you see in the list. The icons also help you see at a glance what windows are included in each configuration in the list. These icons are
• Edit Window Settings: This icon lets you know that the Edit windows
are stored in your configuration.
• Mix Window Settings: This icon tells you that the Mix windows are
stored in your configuration.
• Transport Window Settings: This icon lets you know that the
Transport windows are stored in your configuration
You select these icons when you create or edit your window configurations. I detail this process in the next section.
✦ Comments: You can enter comments in this section to remind you of
what is in the window configuration.
Window Configurations drop-down menu
You can easily manage your window configurations from the drop-down
menu. Figure 4-41 shows this menu.
Figure 4-41:
Use the
drop-down
menu to
manage
your
window
configurations.
Understanding
the Pro Tools
Windows
• Window Layout: This icon appears in your window configuration
when you choose to save the location and size of all the open windows in your configuration.
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Working with Window Configurations
Here’s a rundown of this menu and what it can do for you:
✦ View Filter: This menu lets you show or hide window configurations
with the following settings:
• Show Icons: This shows or hides the icons in the Window
Configurations List window.
• View Configs with Window Layout: This shows only those window
configurations that were created with Window layout settings.
• View Configs with Edit Window Settings: This shows only those
window configurations that were created with Edit window layout
settings.
• View Configs with Mix Window Settings: This shows only those
window configurations that were created with Mix window layout
settings.
• View Configs with Transport Window Settings: This shows only those
window configurations that were created with Transport window
layout settings.
• View All: This shows all your window configurations.
✦ Show Comments: Select or deselect this option to show or hide, respectively, the comments section in the Window Configurations List window.
✦ New Configuration: Selecting this option opens the New Window
Configuration dialog box, where you can create a new configuration.
✦ Update “Name”: If you made any changes to the layout of your current
configuration, choose this to save them in your existing setup.
✦ Edit “Name”: Selecting this option opens the Edit Window Configurations
dialog box, where you can make changes to the options you chose when
you created the configuration. The Edit Window Configuration dialog
box is the same as the New Window Configuration dialog box (except for
the title).
✦ Clear “Name”: Choosing this option clears the active window configuration
without removing its slot in the list.
✦ Delete All: Selecting this option deletes all your window configurations.
✦ Insert Slot before “Name”: Choosing this option inserts a slot before
your current window configuration and changes the number of all the
following configurations if necessary.
Working with Window Configurations
215
✦ Delete “Name” Slot: Choosing this option deletes your current window
configuration along with its slot, and renumbers all the following
window configurations.
✦ Auto-Update Active Configuration: Selecting this option automatically
updates your current window configuration as you make changes to it.
Editing window configurations
You can edit window configurations by opening the Edit Window Configurations
dialog box. Just follow these steps:
1. If it isn’t already open, open the Window Configurations List window
by choosing Window➪Configurations➪Window Configurations List.
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2. Click the window configuration that you want to edit in the Window
3. Choose Edit “Name” from the Window Configurations List drop-down
menu.
The Edit Window Configuration dialog box opens.
4. Make the changes you want to make and then click OK or press
Return/Enter.
The dialog box closes, and your edits are saved.
Updating window configurations
Many times, while I’m working, I find a better way to have my window configuration, so I want to update it. You can do this manually or automatically:
✦ Manually: Make any changes to arrangement of your windows and then
choose Window➪Configurations➪Update Active Configuration.
✦ Automatically: Choose Window➪Configurations➪Auto-Update Active
Configuration. Now, whenever you make a change, your active configuration is saved.
Deleting window configurations
Here’s how to delete a window configuration:
1. Open the Window Configuration List window by choosing Window➪
Configurations➪Window Configuration List.
2. Select the configuration you want to delete by clicking it.
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Configurations List window.
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Working with Window Configurations
3. Choose Delete “Name” from the Window Configuration List
drop-down menu.
Your configuration is deleted, and your remaining configurations are
renumbered to fill the space occupied by the configuration you just
deleted.
If you want to keep the slot occupied by the window configuration after you
delete, simply choose Clear “Name” instead of Delete “Name” from the Window
Configuration List drop-down menu. This is handy when you want to put a
new window configuration in its place.
Chapter 5: Importing
and Exporting Files
In This Chapter
Importing and exporting audio files
Importing and exporting MIDI files
Importing and exporting session data
O
ne of the most powerful aspects of Pro Tools is that it can import a
variety of file types and formats into a session and then export them
just as easily. You can record tracks in another session (or even another
software program) and be able to edit, mix, and process them in Pro Tools.
For example, you can import and export audio files, MIDI files, and session
tracks in formats from AIFF and BWF to Standard MIDI files (SMF) — and
even import raw session data, the tracks, plug-in settings, and other session
details. (Chapter 3 of this mini-book has more on Pro Tools sessions.) This
chapter covers all these options. And if you have some files that use bit
depths and sample rates different from the session you’re working on, I
show you how to import them, too.
Importing into a Session
If you want to fancy up your Pro Tools session, you can import audio and
other data not only from other Pro Tools sessions but also from other
recording programs, such as Logic. So prepare to get fancy.
Importing audio files
Before Pro Tools can import an audio file into your session, it has to find the
file on your hard drive. Then you can add the file directly, copy it first and
then plunk it down in your session, or convert it to a different format before
you import it. The following sections take a look at the types of files you can
import, as well as the steps that make it all possible.
Figuring out file types
You can import the following audio files types into a Pro Tools session:
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Importing into a Session
✦ SDII (Sound Designer II): This was the native format for Pro Tools sessions on Macs. However, this format isn’t used much anymore, and you
can’t exchange this type of file with PCs unless you first convert the file
into a different format, such as BWF or AIFF.
✦ BWF (Broadcast WAV File): This file type is the standard for older,
PC-based Pro Tools systems. Currently, it’s the most commonly used file
type; for that matter, I normally work with it. BWFs are compatible with
both Macs and PCs.
✦ AIFF (Audio Interchange File Format): This file format used to be native
to Macs. You don’t have to convert AIFF files to any other format before
importing them into a Pro Tools session, even if it’s on a PC.
✦ MPEG-1 Layer 3: This type — yep, it’s the famous MP3 — is a great
format for putting music on the Internet (say, a demo track for your
band), as you’ll find out when you check out Book VIII, Chapter 2. If you
choose this option, you have several parameters to choose from when
encoding your music so that you can get the best combination of size
and sound quality.
MP3 is an option for Pro Tools: You have to buy the full-feature version
of this capability if you want to use it any longer than its 30-day, free trial
period. After your trial period is up, you can buy the authorization code
to keep using this option from Digidesign for $20. You can find it by
going to the main Digidesign page (www.digidesign.com). From there,
hover over the Products menu and click All Products Index. Scroll down
a bit and click the Compatible Software link. On the page that appears,
you can find MP3 options in the list of software.
✦ RealAudio G2: This file format is used for streaming audio files received
over the Internet, using the RealAudio player. You can use this file
format on all PCs and on Macs running OS 9, but not on Macs that run
OS X.
RealAudio G2 uses compression to reduce the size of the music file.
However, but when you downsize the file, you also lose some sound
quality, so it’s not recommended for your final mix.
✦ QuickTime: Pro Tools offers no built-in support for it (even though it
shows up here). The QuickTime format is useful if you want to send
the file via e-mail. You play QuickTime files using the Apple QuickTime
player — a nice bit of software supported by many multimedia
applications — but you have to purchase and install that program
separately.
✦ Sound Resource: The only time to use this Mac-only format (in my
opinion) is if you want to play the music in an application that doesn’t
support SDII or AIFF formats. If you end up with a file in this format, you
can convert it easily via the Import Audio to Track command.
Importing into a Session
219
✦ Windows Media: This is a Windows-only format. Like with other unsupported file formats, you can convert these files into something useable
by accessing the Import Audio dialog box: Choose File➪Import Audio
to Track.
Importing audio
In the preceding section, I outline the different types of files Pro Tools can
handle. In this section, I show how you can import those audio files into Pro
Tools. The two most common ways of doing this are
✦ From the keyboard: Press Shift+Ô+I (Mac) or Shift+Ctrl+I (PC). This gets
you to the selfsame Import Audio dialog box.
Whichever of these methods you choose, you end up with the Import Audio
dialog box, where you choose the file you want to import. See Figure 5-1.
The easiest way on a Mac to find the files you want to import is from the
browser section, located under the From drop-down menu (located below
the Enable drop down menu in the upper section of the window). You can
use the scroll bar at the bottom to find the hard drive you want by moving it
all the way to the left. From there, progress to the right by choosing the folders you want as you go until you get to the actual file you want to import.
You can limit the types of files that show up in the file browser by choosing
to display only certain file types (WAV, for example) by selecting this file
type in the Show drop-down menu.
To keep the Import process rolling along, follow these steps after the Import
Audio dialog box opens:
1. From the file browser section of the Import Audio dialog box, click
the file you want to import.
The properties of the selected file appear in the lower half of the
dialog box.
Depending on the properties of the file you select — and the settings in
your session — you have three options:
• Add: If the audio files are the same file type and bit depth as your
session, you can add the files directly into your session. When you
do so, you’re telling Pro Tools to use the original file — not a copy —
from its current place on your hard drive.
Importing and
Exporting Files
✦ From the File menu: Choose File➪Import Audio to Track to access the
Import Audio dialog box, where you can place the audio directly into a
track in your session.
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Importing into a Session
File Browser
Figure 5-1:
Use the
Import
Audio dialog
box to
choose and
audition
files to
import into
a session.
Location slider
Volume slider
If you do this, make sure that you don’t alter this original file if it’s
also part of another session. Otherwise, it will be changed in that
session, too.
If you have to add files of different file types into your session, you
can — SDII, AIFF, or WAV on a Mac; or, AIFF or WAV on a PC — but
doing so slows down system performance.
• Copy: If your file is of the same type and bit depth as your session,
you can make a copy of the file to put into your session. Doing this
allows you to place the copy directly in the folder with the other files
in your session. If you destructively alter the copy, you won’t be
altering how the original file plays in any other session.
Importing into a Session
221
The only drawback to choosing Copy when importing an audio file is
that you’re adding more stuff that takes up space on your hard drive
(not a big deal these days, given the low cost of huge hard drives).
• Convert: If the file you choose to import is of a different file type, bit
depth, or sample rate as your session, you need to convert it first
before importing it into your session.
When you choose to convert a file, you also choose the quality of the
conversion process. You set the conversion quality of your converted
files from the Processing tab of the Preferences window, as shown in
Figure 5-2. Access this by choosing Setup➪Preferences. The dropdown menu that controls conversion quality is located on the right
and under the Import section of the Processing tab the Preferences
dialog box. Options range from TweakHead (highest quality/slowest
conversion) to Low (lowest quality/fastest conversion).
Book II
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Importing and
Exporting Files
Figure 5-2:
Select the
quality of
your file
conversions
here.
2. Audition the selected file before importing it by clicking the Play and
Stop buttons in the lower section of the Import Audio dialog box.
The vertical slider adjusts the volume of your audition; the horizontal
slider adjusts your location in the auditioned file.
3. Click the Add, Copy, or Convert button to place the file in the Regions
to Import list.
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Importing into a Session
You can select more than one file by Shift-clicking to highlight the files
you want to include in the list. You can also click the Add All or Convert
All button to include all the files in the current directory on the Regions
to Import list.
4. Click Done.
The Audio Import Options dialog box opens.
5. Select the destination of the audio track(s). Your options are
New Track: The New Track option creates a new track in your session for
each of the audio files you select. If you choose this option, you must
select (from the drop-down menu) where you want the audio file to go in
the new track. Your options are:
• Session Start: This places your imported audio at the beginning of
your session.
• Song Start: This places your imported audio at the Song Start Marker
in your session. You can open the move Song Start window by
choosing Event➪Time➪Move Song Start.
• Selection: Your audio will be placed in the specific location where
your cursor is within your session.
• Spot: Choosing this option opens the Spot dialog box, where you
want type where you want the audio to start.
Regions List: The Regions List option simply puts your files in the
Regions list on the right side of the Edit window where you can drag
them into a track when you’re ready to include them in your song.
6. Click OK.
Your audio file(s) are imported into your session. This might take a
minute if your audio file(s) need to be converted.
Importing MIDI files
MIDI data contains all the performance information for your MIDI instruments, but it doesn’t contain any actual sound. You need a sound source for
that. Pro Tools lets you bring that data into a session where you can work
with and add the sounds you want. This data is in the form of a Standard
MIDI File. Standard MIDI files consist of data stored in a common format that
can be read by nearly all MIDI devices. When you import a Standard MIDI file
into Pro Tools, you get two choices:
✦ Import the file directly into a track.
✦ Import it into your session’s MIDI Regions list.
Importing into a Session
223
The following sections detail the types of MIDI files supported by Pro Tools
and how to import them.
Figuring out file types
Pro Tools allows you to import the following two types of Standard MIDI files:
✦ Type 0: Type 0 Standard MIDI files contain all MIDI data on one track.
When you import this type of file into a session, Pro Tools sorts data
appropriate for each stereo channel and places the data in separate
regions and tracks.
✦ Type 1: Type 1 MIDI files contain multiple tracks of MIDI data. When you
import this type of file into Pro Tools, each track’s data goes to a separate MIDI track or region in Pro Tools.
You can import standard MIDI files into a Pro tools session one of two ways:
✦ From the File menu: Choose File➪Import➪MIDI to access the Choose a
MIDI File navigation box (as shown in Figure 5-3).
✦ From the keyboard: Press Option+Ô+I (Mac) or Ctrl+Alt+I (PC).
Figure 5-3:
Select MIDI
files to
import into a
session.
Whichever of these methods you choose, you end up at the Choose a MIDI
File navigation box, where you choose the file you want to import.
Importing and
Exporting Files
Importing MIDI
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Importing into a Session
The easiest way to find the files you want to import is from the browser
section, located under the From drop-down menu located just beneath the
Enable drop-down menu. To navigate this browser section, move the scroll
bar at the bottom of the section all the way to the left to find the hard drive
that contains your MIDI files. Click it to select it, and then click the folders
you want from the boxes on the right until you get to the file you want to
import.
Select the file using the browser and click Open. The MIDI Import Options
dialog box opens (refer to Figure 5-3), where you can choose to place the
MIDI file in a new track in your session or in the Regions list, where you can
place it in a track later on.
If you want to import your MIDI file into the Regions list, select the Regions
List option in the Destination section and then click OK.
If you choose to import your MIDI file into a new track, you have some more
decisions to make:
✦ Location: You can choose among three options from this drop-down
menu:
• Session Start: Beginning of the session
• Selection: Where your cursor is currently located
• Spot: If you choose Spot, the Spot dialog box opens when you click
OK to allow you to choose the exact spot in your session you want to
MIDI file to begin.
✦ Import Tempo Map from MIDI File: If you want the tempo of the
imported MIDI file to override the tempo of your present session, select
this check box.
✦ Import Key Signature from MIDI File: As you can probably guess,
selecting this check box imports the MIDI file’s current key signature
data to travel along with the MIDI performance data. Select this check
box if you want this information in your session.
✦ Remove Existing instrument Tracks: Select this check box to choose to
keep or discard any existing Instrument tracks or regions in your session.
If you already have instrument tracks that you want to use in the session,
be sure to choose to keep them; if not, go ahead and discard them.
✦ Remove Existing MIDI Tracks: Select this check box to choose to keep
or discard any existing MIDI tracks or regions in your session. If you
already have MIDI tracks that you want to use in the session, be sure to
choose to keep them; if not, go ahead and discard them.
✦ Remove Existing MIDI Regions: Select this check box to choose to keep
or discard any existing MIDI regions that you have in your session.
Importing into a Session
225
Your successfully imported MIDI file is placed in your session one of two
ways:
✦ If you imported by using the New Track option: Your file is placed in
a newly created MIDI track in your session. If this is the case, select the
MIDI channel and instrument you want to specify for your MIDI track’s
output so that you can hear the performances when you play your
session, as described in Chapter 4 of this mini-book.
✦ If you imported by using the MIDI Regions option: Your MIDI data is
placed in the MIDI Regions list. Click and drag the files from the MIDI
Regions list into an existing track to put them in your session.
Importing tracks
Understanding the Import Session Data dialog box
The Import Session Data dialog box is where you select the various properties of the tracks you want to import. If you’re bringing in a track from a previous session, this is where you choose what aspects of your original track
you want kept (say, keep the plug-in settings and lose the panning settings)
when it gets imported into your present session.
As you can see in Figure 5-4, the Import Session Data dialog box gives you
lots of properties to mull over. (“Do I import this? Don’t I import that? What
parts of this stuff do I or don’t I import?” Ack. . . .) These properties include
✦ Source Properties: This includes the basics — session name, type, and
start time; bit depth; sample rate — of the selected source file.
✦ Audio Media Options: From this drop-down menu, select how you copy
and consolidate the source’s audio files. Its options include
• Refer to Source Media (Where Possible): Use this option if you want to
avoid duplicating files — it refers to your original files whenever possible. The files are copied only if they don’t reside on supported
media (such as CD-ROM), or if they have a different sample rate or
bit depth from the session you import into. This saves some space
on your hard drives.
Importing and
Exporting Files
The Pro Tools Import Bag of Tricks isn’t limited to just audio and MIDI files.
In fact, you can import entire tracks from another session into your current
session just by using the Import Tracks command. Choose File➪Import
Session Data to call up the Import Session Data dialog box, and you’re well
on your way to getting that great track from last month’s session embedded
in your present project.
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Importing into a Session
• Copy from Source Media: Choosing this option copies all the audio
files, automatically converting any files that have bit depths or
sample rates that differ from those of the target session. This uses up
space on your hard drive, but with today’s super-cheap drives, it’s
not as big a deal as it used to be (when drives were expensive).
• Consolidate from Source Media: This option copies and consolidates
the audio in regions used in the source session, eliminating any
unused audio from the parent files. When you choose this option,
you also get to choose the handle length (the extra time before and
after the region start and end times). This keeps you from importing
any unnecessary material if you’re sure that you won’t be using it in
your session.
• Force to Target Session Format: This option copies — and converts —
any files that don’t have the same bit depth and sample rate as the
target session; it points to (but doesn’t copy) any files that do match
these traits. Use this option if you don’t want any extra stuff taking
up room on your hard drives.
Figure 5-4:
Use the
Import
Session
Data dialog
box to set
parameters
for imported
tracks.
Importing into a Session
227
✦ Video Media Options: The drop-down menu here gives you two options
when importing video data into a session: You can copy the stuff, or you
can refer to the source material. Which option you choose depends on
how much hard drive space you have and whether you think you need
more than one copy of the original file. If you have tons of space and
think you’ll be editing the data, by all means copy it. However, if you
know you won’t be making any changes, there’s no need to add to the
clutter of your hard drive.
✦ Time Code Mapping Options: Every video file contains time code data
(information that lets you know where you are in the video). You can
choose from three ways to place imported material in the session:
• Maintain Relative Time Code Values: This option places the imported
material at the same time from the start of the session as their
source session. This means that if you have tracks in a session that
start 30 seconds from the beginning of the session, they will remain
30 seconds from the start of the session into which they’re imported
regardless of the actual start time of both sessions.
• Map Start Time Code To: This option lets you choose a new start time
for your imported files. When you select this option, you also select
the start time for your imported file in the Time Value field. This
option is useful when you have a different start time on the session
data you want to import, and you want to place the imported data at
a specific point in the new session. This start point is entered into
the Handle Size field.
✦ Track Offset Options: The options in this section allow you to place the
tracks relative to their original start times. For example, if you want to
import session data into a track and have it start four measures (bars)
after the session starts, you can select Bars:Beats from the drop-down
menu and enter 4 in the text field.
✦ Sample Rate Conversion Options: If your source and target sessions
have different sample rates (you select the sample rate of a session
when you create it), you’re prompted to select whether sample rate
conversion is applied and, if so, how it’s done. This area of the Import
Session Data dialog box lets you do that, using the following options:
• Apply SRC: Select this check box to apply sample rate conversion to
your imported session data. When you select this check box, you can
choose from the following options:
• Source Sample Rate: This option lets you choose the sample rate
from which your source files begin the sample rate process.
Book II
Chapter 5
Importing and
Exporting Files
• Maintain Absolute Time Code Values: This option puts your imported
tracks at the same time location as the source session. This is a good
choice if the session you import into uses the same start time as
your source session and you want the imported session tracks to
remain at the beginning of the session.
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Importing into a Session
• Destination Sample Rate: This setting is always the same as that of
your current session.
• Conversion Quality: This drop-down menu lets you choose the sound
quality you get from the sample-rate conversion process. You have a
choice among Low (fastest), Good, Better, Best, and TweakHead
(slowest).
✦ Source Tracks: This section of the Import Session Data dialog box
shows you all the source tracks in the session containing the tracks you
want to import. Each track has a drop-down menu that allows you to
either select it for import or not.
✦ Import: This section enables you to determine whether to import
tempo/meter, key signature, and other configuration settings:
• Tempo/Meter Map: Select this check box to import tempo and meter
maps (specified tempo and meter events throughout the session)
from the source session. Select this option if your source session
contains tempo and meter information that you want to use in the
target session.
• Key Signature Map: You can import existing key signature data into
your session by selecting this check box.
• Markers/Memory Locations: Selecting this check box includes markers and memory locations with your imported session data.
• Window Configurations: You can import window configurations (size
and locations of open windows) into your session by selecting this
check box. You can find out more about window configurations in
Chapter 4 of this mini-book.
Importing tracks
After you have a chance to get comfortable with the Import Session Data
dialog box, you can get some practical experience by using the following
steps to import some actual tracks into a session:
1. Choose File➪New Session to create a new session or choose
File➪Open Session to open an existing one.
2. Choose File➪Import Session Data from the main menu.
A dialog box appears, prompting you to choose a file from which to
import session data.
3. Choose the Pro Tools file (.pts suffix) containing the track you want
to import, and then click Open.
The Import Session Data dialog box opens. (Refer to Figure 5-4.)
Exporting from a Session
229
4. In the Import Session Data dialog box, go through the Source Tracks
list and click the name of each track you want to import.
To select multiple noncontiguous tracks, press and hold Ô (Mac) or Ctrl
(PC) while you click the track names. To select multiple contiguous
tracks, press and hold Shift while you click the names.
5. From the drop-down menus, choose your Audio Media, Video Media,
Time Code Mapping, and Track Offset options.
See the previous section, “Understanding the Import Session Data dialog
box,” for more on how to use these options.
6. (Session-dependent) If the sample rate of your new session is different
You find these drop-down menus in the Sample Rate Conversion Options
section of the Import Session Data dialog box.
7. (Optional) If you want to import meter/tempo maps, key signature
maps, markers or memory locations, or window configurations from
the source session, select the appropriate check box(es) in the Import
section of the dialog box.
Importing these maps ensures that the target session has the same
maps, locations, and/or window configurations as the source session.
8. Click OK.
9. (Optional) If you chose to copy audio or video media — or consolidate
data from them — select a location to place the media files.
Exporting from a Session
Pro Tools lets you export audio, MIDI, and region data from one session to
another. This is handy if you want to take parts of a song and add them to
parts of another song, as in the case of an R&B remix of a pop tune. This
section describes the process.
Exporting audio
Pro Tools gives you several ways to export audio — as regions, as stereointerleaved files, or as region definitions, depending on what you want to do
with it. Here’s a rundown on these options (and what the heck these terms
mean):
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Importing and
Exporting Files
from the sample rate of the session you’re importing from, you need
to first convert it to the target session’s rate before you can import it.
Do this by selecting the sample rate of the source session from the
Source Sample Rate drop-down menu and then choosing an option
from the Conversion Quality drop-down menu.
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Exporting from a Session
✦ Export Audio Regions as Files: This lets you take a region in your
track and export it as its own audio file that you can then use in another
session. This is great for making separate audio files of drum loops: for
example, if you’re ready to place them in your mix.
✦ Export as Stereo Interleaved Files: This lets you take the regions from
a stereo track or two regions from two mono tracks and save them as a
single, stereo-interleaved file. (Stereo-interleaved files are the type that
many other programs create when doing a stereo mix.)
✦ Export Region Definitions: This lets you export the information that
defines the region. Doing this keeps you from having to make a copy of
the audio (saves hard drive space) while still being able to use the
region in a new session. (Pro Tools uses the original audio file so that
you don’t have two in your system.)
Exporting regions
Because regions are only portions of the audio in an audio file, Pro Tools lets
you take this portion and make a separate file containing just this audio
data. Exporting regions allows you to take a lovingly crafted musical element
(a killer drum loop, for example) and use it in another session or application
without having to re-create it from the parent audio file.
To export a region as a new audio file, follow these steps:
1. Select the region(s) by one of two ways:
• From the Audio Regions list (located on the right side of the Edit
window): Select the region(s) you want to export by clicking the
region’s name. To select more than one region, hold the Shift key
while you click each region’s name. (If the list isn’t visible, click the
double arrows at the bottom left of the Edit window to call it up.)
• From the Track playlist in the Edit window: Click anywhere on the
region to select it. To select more than one region, hold the Shift key
while you make your selections.
2. Choose Export Regions as Files from the Audio Regions drop-down
menu (the menu you open by clicking and holding the Audio Regions
name at the top of the Audio Regions list).
The Export Selected dialog box opens, as shown in Figure 5-5.
3. Choose the export settings you want for your new file.
• File Type: Choose the file type of the session you want to use this file
in. If you’re not sure where you’re going to use the file, choose BWF
or AIFF. You can read about these file types earlier in this chapter.
Exporting from a Session
231
Figure 5-5:
Use the
Export
Selected
dialog box
to choose
export
settings for
your new
file.
Book II
Chapter 5
Importing and
Exporting Files
• Format: Your choices here are (Multiple) Mono or Stereo. Choose the
format appropriate for your file. If your drum loop, for example, is in
stereo and has panning information, you’ll want to select Stereo.
• Bit Depth: You can choose from 8, 16, and 24 bits. I recommend
selecting the same bit depth as your current session.
• Sample Rate: You choices include 8, 11.025, 16, 22.050, 32, 44.1, 48,
88.2, 96, 177.4, and 192 kHz. Choose the sample rate of the session
you want to put this file into. If you’re not sure, select the same rate
as your current session.
4. Select a destination for the file in the Destination Directory field by
clicking the Choose button and following the prompt.
5. Select from the Resolve Duplicate File Names By options:
• Prompting for Each Duplicate: This stops the exporting process and
lets you know when Pro Tools finds a duplicate filename. You can
then choose to either replace the original or create a new name.
• Auto Renaming: You authorize Pro Tools to automatically create a
new name for these files. This is the best option to choose if you
don’t want to have to answer a prompt for each duplicate filename
and you want to make sure that your original files aren’t replaced.
• Replacing with New Files: This option replaces any existing files containing the same name with your newly exported ones. This is the
option to take if you’re sure that you don’t ever want the original
files bearing the same name.
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Exporting from a Session
6. Click Export.
Your new file is created and saved to the destination you chose in the
Destination Directory field of the Export Selected dialog box.
Exporting stereo-interleaved files
A stereo-interleaved file is a single audio file with all the stereo data contained in them. These types of stereo files are different than the ones used
in Pro Tools, which consist of two separate audio files for stereo. One contains the left channel data, and the other contains the right channel data.
Although Pro Tools doesn’t support stereo interleaved file types, you can
export regions from within your session as a single, stereo interleaved file.
This is an important feature because many other audio applications — such
as mastering programs — use stereo-interleaved files instead of the separate
ones that Pro Tools favors.
To export a region as a stereo interleaved file, do the following:
1. Select either a stereo region or two mono regions one of two ways:
• From the Regions list (located on the right side of the Edit window):
Click the name of the region to highlight it. To select two mono
regions, hold the Shift key while you click each region’s name.
• From the track playlist in the Edit window: Click anywhere on the
region within the track to highlight it. For more than one mono
region, hold the Shift key while you click each region.
2. Choose Export Selected as Files from the Regions list drop-down
menu — the menu you open by clicking and holding the Audio
Regions name at the top of the Audio Regions list.
The Export Selected dialog box opens. (Refer to Figure 5-5.)
3. Choose Interleaved from the Format drop-down menu.
4. Choose the rest of your settings for this file.
Check out the previous section, “Exporting regions,” for tips on what
settings to choose here.
5. Click Export.
Your file is created and saved on your hard drive so you can use it in an
application that supports stereo interleaved files.
Exporting region definitions
Region definitions are the information that Pro Tools uses to define the
location, start, and end times of a region within the parent audio file. If
you’ve come up with some Pro Tools regions that you want to use in another
Exporting from a Session
233
session (or some other application that supports Pro Tools regions data),
you can export region definitions from your session without having to copy
the region as an audio file. In effect, all you save using this command are the
pointers that make up the region definition: The definition points to the
parent file and not the audio itself.
If you actually want to use a region definition in another session or application, make sure that the region’s parent audio file still exists on the hard
drive. A definition that points to nothing is no help.
To export region definitions, follow these steps:
1. Select the regions you want to export the region definitions for:
• From the Track playlist in the Edit window: Click anywhere on the
region to select it. To select more than one region, hold the Shift key
while you make your selections.
2. Choose Export Region Definitions from the Audio Regions list dropdown menu — the menu you opened by clicking and holding the
Audio Regions name at the top of the Audio Regions list.
3. Click Export.
The pointing data for the selected regions are exported.
Exporting MIDI
Ah, the miracle of MIDI — say you’ve laid down a kickin’ “keyboard” part on
guitar synth. How do you get it out of the current session? To export MIDI
data to another device or application, you need to save your MIDI tracks and
regions as a Standard MIDI file. You can save them as Type 0 files (a single
multichannel track) or as Type 1 files (multiple tracks).
To export MIDI tracks, follow these steps:
1. (Optional) Mute any MIDI tracks you don’t want to include in the
Export MIDI procedure by clicking the Mute button for these tracks.
Any muted tracks are excluded from the export function.
2. Choose File➪Export➪MIDI from the main menu.
The Export MIDI Settings dialog box appears, as shown on the top in
Figure 5-6.
Importing and
Exporting Files
• From the Audio Regions list (located in the right side of the Edit
window): Select the region(s) you want to export by clicking the
region’s name. To select more than one region, hold the Shift key
while you click each region’s name. (If the list isn’t visible, click the
double arrows at the bottom left of the Edit window.)
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Managing Files
3. From the MIDI File Format drop-down list, select the format of your
heart’s choosing:
• 0 (Single track)
• 1 (Multi-track)
You must also select the Apply Real-Time Properties check box as you
want.
4. Click OK.
The Save a MIDI File As dialog box appears, as shown in the bottom in
Figure 5-6.
5. Enter the name and location for this newly exported file in the Save
As text field, and select a destination for the file from the Where
drop-down menu.
Figure 5-6:
Use these
dialog boxes
to choose
the settings,
name, and
location
for your
exported
MIDI file.
6. Click Save.
Your new MIDI file is created from all the unmuted MIDI tracks in your
session in the location you designated. This file includes all notes; controller events; program changes; System Exclusive data (instructions
exclusive to the device); and tempo, meter, and marker events. Society
of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE) time code start
time is also included so that your MIDI files will start at their proper
time when opened.
Managing Files
As soon as you start to record and edit your music, you start filling your
hard drive with data. Properly managing your data helps you keep your
Managing Files
235
system stable, lets you maximize your hard space, and protects you from
the worst disaster of them all — lost data. This section details three important file-management tasks — compacting files, deleting files, and backing up
data — you should routinely do to keep everything running smoothly.
Compacting files
Editing means cutting a snippet from here and taking the best chunk from
there and putting it altogether to make a (hopefully coherent) whole. It also
means that, after you extract that great 15-second bit from that 75-second
clip, you’re going to have a lot of stuff cluttering up the virtual cutting-room
floor of your hard drive. What to do?
Postpone using the Compact Selected command until after you finish all the
editing in your session because it permanently deletes the unused audio
data from the session. Don’t use this command until you’re sure that you don’t
want to use any of your data leftovers.
Compacting your audio files consists of three basic steps:
1. Select any unused regions in the session.
2. Clear these unused regions.
Steps 1 and 2 (ahem) clear the way to your final step:
3. Compact the files by removing the data for those cleared regions from
the parent files.
To compact an audio file, do the following:
1. Choose Select Unused➪Regions from the Audio Regions list dropdown menu (the menu you opened by clicking and holding the Audio
Regions name at the top of the Audio Regions list).
Any regions not used in a track in the current session become highlighted in the Audio Regions list.
2. Choose Clear Selected from the Audio Regions list drop-down menu to
remove the unused regions.
The Clear Audio dialog box appears.
Importing and
Exporting Files
You can get rid of the clutter — the unused portions of the audio files in
your session — by using the Audio Regions list Compact Selected command.
This command deletes any audio from a file in your session where there are
no regions referencing the data. It helps conserve disk space.
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Managing Files
3. Click Remove.
This removes the unused regions from your session.
4. Select the region(s) you want to compact from the Audio Regions list
by clicking the region name.
To select more than one region, hold the Shift key while you click each
region’s name.
5. Choose Compact Selected from the Audio Regions list drop-down
menu (the menu you open by clicking and holding the Audio Regions
name at the top of the Audio Regions list).
The Compact dialog box appears. This box contains a warning about the
consequences of compacting a file (read the Warning icon earlier in this
section) as a reminder that this is an irreversible process.
6. (Optional) If you have crossfades in the selected region(s), enter the
amount of padding (in milliseconds) that you want to put around each
selected region.
See Book IV, Chapter 4 for more on crossfades.
Padding adds space before and after your regions to account for any
crossfades (see Book IV, Chapter 4). Choose a pad length equal to
(at least) the longest crossfade length for your selected regions.
7. Click the Compact button, located at the bottom of the Compact Audio
dialog box.
Your file is compacted, and the session is saved.
Deleting unwanted files
Like with any creative process, you end up with (in addition to your knockout musical creation) leftover junk that just takes up space. You can delete
unwanted files in your session from your hard drive by using the Clear
Selected command located under the Audio Regions list drop-down menu
(opened by clicking and holding the Audio Regions name at the top of the
Audio Regions list). Less unused data on your hard drive means more space
for the good stuff.
To delete an audio file, do the following:
1. Select the audio files you want to delete from the Audio Regions list.
The audio files are listed in bold letters in the Audio Regions list.
2. From the Audio Regions list drop-down menu (opened by clicking and
holding the Audio Regions name at the top of the Audio Regions list),
choose Clear Selected.
Managing Files
237
The Clear Audio dialog box appears. You have the options of Remove
(which you use before compacting a file — see the previous section) and
Delete. This is the one you want for this procedure.
3. Click the Delete button in the Clear Audio dialog box.
Your file is permanently deleted from your hard drive.
The Clear Selected command is irreversible. After you click Delete, your
data is gone forever. If you think you might want the data someday, choose
Remove from the Clear Audio dialog box. Your file is removed from the
session but not from your hard drive.
Backing up data
Backing up your files to the same hard drive does you no good if your drive
shuts down (a common occurrence). Always back-up to a different hard drive
or to another medium, such as a DVD-R. (Check out the manual for your DVD
burner for steps on how to do this.) You can also pick up a copy of CD &
DVD Recording For Dummies, 2nd Edition, by Mark Chambers (Wiley).
To back up your session files to another hard drive, do the following:
1. Create a new folder on a different hard drive than your session and
call it Back Ups.
2. Choose File➪Save Copy In from the main menu.
The Save dialog box appears.
3. Use the file browser section of the dialog box to select the folder you
created in Step 1 as the destination for your backup files.
4. Enter a name for your backup in the Save As field of the Save Session
Copy In dialog box.
Because this copy exists on a whole different hard drive, I can use the
same name as that of my original session — and if it’s an exact duplicate,
I do. This is important because if the original files are lost, all you have
to do is drag the backed-up files onto your audio drive and get to work.
Using a different name means you have to rename or import all your files
before you can use them.
Importing and
Exporting Files
There’s a saying in the computer world: If the data doesn’t exist in more
than two places, it doesn’t exist. I know I said this elsewhere (Chapter 1 of
this mini-book, to be precise), but I think it bears repeating. As someone who
lost an entire project’s worth of data because I “forgot” to back up my files,
I strongly encourage you to make a habit of backing up your sessions.
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Chapter 5
238
Managing Files
5. Under the Items to Copy box, select All Audio files as well as any
other setting you want to save such as plug-in settings or movie/
video files.
6. Click Save.
The files you selected are backed up to the destination you specify in
Step 3.
You can also back up your files by clicking and dragging the folder containing your session and audio files from one hard drive to another on your computer’s desktop.
Book III
Recording Audio
Contents at a Glance
Chapter 1: Taking Care of Tracks ......................................................................................241
Chapter 2: Miking: Getting a Great Source Sound ..........................................................259
Chapter 3: Preparing to Record ........................................................................................289
Chapter 4: Recording Audio ..............................................................................................311
Chapter 1: Taking Care of Tracks
In This Chapter
Working with tracks
Understanding track views
Grouping tracks
Managing track voices
B
efore you can do any recording in Pro Tools, you need to create and
configure some tracks — specific places to put the vocals, instrumental
parts, pterodactyl screeches, whatever. This involves setting up new tracks,
naming the tracks, and assigning inputs and outputs to your newly created
and named tracks.
But that’s not all. When working with tracks in Pro Tools, you also need to
know how to show and hide, activate and deactivate, solo, mute, and adjust
your view of them, among other things. This chapter takes the mystery out
of dealing with tracks and shows you how to work with them both efficiently
and effectively.
Understanding Tracks in Pro Tools
Pro Tools has five types of tracks (Audio, Auxiliary Input, Master Fader,
MIDI, and Instrument) as well as two track formats (mono and stereo). All
possible permutations and combinations of these various types and formats
are explained with subtlety and style in the following sections.
Track types
When you work with tracks in Pro Tools, you have to keep in mind that
you’re sure to end up dealing with five distinct flavors of tracks. They are
✦ Audio tracks: An audio track contains audio files and can be mono
or stereo.
✦ Auxiliary Input tracks: These tracks are used as effects sends, for
submixes, or for other routing purposes.
✦ Master Fader tracks: This track type contains the summed output for all
the tracks routed to it. Master Fader tracks can be mono or stereo;
stereo is most common.
242
Setting Up Tracks
✦ MIDI tracks: MIDI tracks contain MIDI data — instructions to MIDI
devices on how to create specific digital sounds. (For more on MIDI,
check out Book I, Chapter 5. For more on MIDI tracks, go to Book V.)
✦ Instrument tracks: Instrument tracks are blends of Audio and MIDI tracks
that allow you to insert virtual instruments (such as software synthesizers) into your session. You can also route real instruments with their
corresponding audio outputs into the same track. These tracks contain
MIDI data while also allowing you some audio capabilities to make it
easy to use both software and hardware instruments. Book V, Chapter 1
offers more about these hybrid tracks.
Track formats
Pro Tools offers a bit less variety when it comes to track formats. You get
two — count ’em, two — choices:
✦ Mono: A mono (monaural) track consists of a single channel of audio or
MIDI data. It uses, as its name implies, just one voice.
✦ Stereo: A stereo (stereophonic) track consists of two channels of audio
and uses two voices. A MIDI track can’t be stereo.
Setting Up Tracks
Setting up your recording project is a little like setting up a railroad: It’ll take
you somewhere only if you first put the tracks in place. Getting that done is
what this section is about.
Creating new tracks
To create a new track, choose Track➪New from the main menu or press
Ô+Shift+N (Mac) or Ctrl+Shift+N (PC). Either method opens the New Tracks
dialog box (as shown in Figure 1-1), where you get to choose the following:
✦ Number of new tracks: The default here is 1, but you can pretty much
create up to 128 mono audio tracks or Auxiliary Input tracks, 64 Master
Fader tracks, 32 Instrument tracks, and 256 MIDI tracks. Just keep in
mind that you can have only 32 voices of audio tracks playing at one
time in your session.
✦ Track format: Here you choose stereo or mono.
✦ Track type: Clicking the arrows opens a drop-down menu that lets you
choose between an Audio, an Auxiliary Input, a Master Fader, a MIDI, or
an Instrument track.
✦ Samples or ticks: You can choose between samples or ticks (bars/beats)
for your new tracks.
Setting Up Tracks
243
✦ Plus sign: Clicking this adds another tracks selection row containing all
the options listed in this section so that you can add more than one type
of track without having to open the New Track window repeatedly.
Make your selections and then click Create to create your new track.
This track then appears in the Edit and Mix windows and in the Show/Hide
list located on the right side of the Edit window. If the Show/Hide list isn’t
visible, click the double arrow at the lower-left corner of the Edit window.
Figure 1-1:
Create a
new track
here.
Duplicating tracks
You can duplicate tracks — creating a new track that mirrors all the input,
output, effects send settings, and insert settings of your original track — in
two easy steps:
1. Click the name of the track in the Mix or the Edit windows.
Book III
Chapter 1
To select more than one track to duplicate, hold the Shift key while you
click each track’s name.
2. Choose Track➪Duplicate from the main menu.
The new track appears in the Mix and the Edit windows to the right of
the track you’re duplicating and just below the duplicated track in the
Show/Hide list.
Naming tracks
When you open a new track (choose Track➪New), Pro Tools creates a
default name for the track — something really helpful, like Audio 1 —
but you can change the name to anything you want. You do this by doubleclicking the name of the track in either the Mix or the Edit windows. A dialog
box similar to what you see in Figure 1-2 opens, from which you can use the
fields to both change the name of the track as well as add any comments
you want to include about the track. After you enter your track name and
comments, click OK — you’re set!
Taking Care
of Tracks
The name is highlighted.
244
Setting Up Tracks
I highly recommend that you name your new tracks right away with a name
that is descriptive of what you plan on recording on it. Some examples
include Vox (or Vocals), Ld Gtr, Snare, Kick, and so on. This will save you confusion later on when you start to mix.
Figure 1-2:
Choose a
track name
and add
comments
here.
Assigning inputs and outputs
To record with your new track, you need to assign an input to it so Pro Tools
knows where your source sound is coming from. To hear the track play,
you need to choose an output so Pro Tools can send the sound out to your
monitors or to your headphone jack.
That makes sense, right? Now, to actually assign an input to your track, do
the following:
1. Choose View➪Edit Window➪I/O from the main menu to open the I/O
section of the Edit window.
The I/O section shows the inputs and outputs for each track.
2. Within the I/O section of your track in the Edit window, click and hold
the Input selector (see Figure 1-3) until the Input contextual menu
pops up.
Figure 1-3:
Assign an
input or
output here.
Altering Your View of Tracks
245
3. While still holding down your mouse button, move the mouse over the
Input menu until it rests on the input listing you want.
4. Release the mouse button to select your choice from the Input contextual menu.
This menu closes, and the input you select appears in the Input selector.
Choosing your outputs requires pretty much the same procedure, although
now you start things off by clicking the Output selector instead.
If you have an output you want to use for your session, such as Analog 1-2,
you can set this as the default in the I/O Setup dialog box. To do this, follow
these steps:
1. Choose Setup➪I/O to open the I/O Setup dialog box.
2. Click the Output tab.
3. Choose your output from the New Track Default Output drop-down
menu.
4. Click OK.
The window closes, and all your new tracks automatically receive your
chosen output upon creation.
Book III
Chapter 1
Altering Your View of Tracks
Showing and hiding tracks
Both the Edit and the Mix windows have the option of including an audio
tracks list in the window view (see Figure 1-4). In this list, the Tracks list, you
can show or hide selected tracks or groups of tracks. This list is located on
the left side of either window. If it’s not visible, click the double arrows at the
bottom left of either window to open it in that window.
Figure 1-4:
Use the list
to show,
hide, or sort
your tracks.
Taking Care
of Tracks
Pro Tools gives you lots of options to change how tracks look in the Mix and
the Edit windows. You can change a track’s color, size, location, and even
whether you can see it. The following sections get you up to speed on these
options.
246
Altering Your View of Tracks
You can show and hide tracks in two ways:
✦ Use the drop-down menu. Click and hold the title bar of the Show/Hide
Tracks list until a menu opens up, as shown in Figure 1-5. Then just
choose the option you want.
Figure 1-5:
Use this
menu to set
how you
want to see
your tracks.
The Show Only Selected Tracks option and the Hide Selected Tracks
option require that you first highlight your desired tracks in the main
part of the Edit or the Mix windows. To select one track, just click the
track’s name. To select more than one track, hold down the Shift key
while clicking each track you want. When you then use the Show Only
Selected option, for example, all non-highlighted tracks are hidden.
✦ Click the track name in the Show/Hide Tracks list. Clicking directly
on the track name located in the Show/Hide Tracks list toggles between
hiding and showing the track. You can even move a track around by
clicking and dragging it to where you want it in relation to the others.
If the Show/Hide Tracks list isn’t showing, click the double arrow at the
bottom-left corner of the window to open it (see Figure 1-6).
Figure 1-6:
To show the
Show/Hide
Tracks list,
click the
arrows in
the lower
left of the
Edit or Mix
windows.
Click here to show the
Show/Hide Tracks list.
Altering Your View of Tracks
247
You can also use the Show/Hide Tracks list drop-down menu to sort tracks
by name, type, edit group, mix group, or voice, as shown in Figure 1-7. This
menu is opened by clicking and holding the Show/Hide Tracks list title.
Figure 1-7:
You can sort
your tracks
in the Edit
or Mix
window.
Assigning track color
To make all your tracks easier to keep track of when you’re working, you can
assign color groups to the waveform display for each track in the Edit
window. To do this, choose Setup➪Preferences from the main menu and
then click the Display tab in the Preferences dialog box. This opens the
Preferences dialog box, as shown in Figure 1-8.
Book III
Chapter 1
Taking Care
of Tracks
Figure 1-8:
Choose how
to colorcode your
tracks.
248
Altering Your View of Tracks
On the right side of this dialog box is the Default Track Color Coding section.
Here, you can choose from several radio buttons:
✦ None: Makes the display for all the tracks the same color
✦ Tracks and MIDI channels: Assigns colors to each waveform display
based upon the audio track number and the MIDI channels assigned for
each MIDI track
✦ Tracks and MIDI Devices: Bases colors for the waveform display on the
audio track number and the MIDI device used
✦ Groups: Colors the waveform display for your tracks according to a
track’s group membership
✦ Track Type: Assigns colors according to the type of track in your session
Changing track size
You can alter the viewed size of tracks in the Edit or the Mix windows. This
can be a godsend, for example, when you have a ton of tracks in a session,
and you want to see them all onscreen (pick a small size) or if you have a
track that you want to edit (choose a giant-sized one). Here are your options:
✦ Edit window: The Edit window allows you to choose from several different-size track views. Your options include Micro, Mini, Small, Medium,
Large, Jumbo, Extreme, Fit to Window, and Expanded Track Display. You
access these options by clicking the track height selector or the ruler
bar at the far left side of the waveform display of the track, as shown in
Figure 1-9.
If you’re using Pro Tools version 7.3 and newer, you can simply drag
your track larger or smaller by clicking and dragging your mouse up or
down at the bottom of your track.
Track Height selector
Ruler bar
Figure 1-9:
Change
track height
here.
✦ Mix window: In the Mix window, you can toggle between Narrow
and Regular channel strip views by choosing View➪Narrow Mix Window
or View➪Regular Mix Window, respectively, as shown in Figure 1-10.
Pressing Option+Ô+M (Mac) or Shift+Ctrl+M (PC) also toggles between
the two views.
Altering Your View of Tracks
249
Figure 1-10:
Choose
between
Regular and
Narrow
channel
strips in the
Mix
window.
Moving tracks around
You can move tracks around and arrange them in your Mix or Edit window
as you want them. This feature is handy if you have a group of tracks that
you want to have next to each other, such as percussion and drums. I place
any submixed tracks together to help me keep track (sorry, I couldn’t help
myself) of them all without having to move all over the Edit or Mix windows.
The following steps show you how to do this:
1. Locate the name of the track you’d like to move in the Tracks list, as
shown in Figure 1-11.
2. Click the track name and then drag the track up or down to where
Book III
Chapter 1
you want it.
The track stays put where you dragged it.
Moving the track around in one window changes its location in the other.
Figure 1-11:
Click and
drag to
move tracks
around.
Deleting tracks
To delete a track, follow these steps:
1. Select the track by clicking its name in either the Edit or the Mix
windows.
Taking Care
of Tracks
3. Release the mouse button.
250
Grouping Tracks
2. Choose Track➪Delete from the main menu.
3. Click OK.
Grouping Tracks
In Pro Tools, creating and managing groups of tracks is a snap. I strongly recommend taking advantage of Pro Tools grouping features because they let
you perform lots of different tasks — edits, for example — on more than one
track at a time.
Keeping track of grouped track parameters
When tracks are grouped, certain parameters become linked. These include
✦ Automation modes
✦ Editing functions
✦ Mutes
✦ Send mutes
✦ Send levels
✦ Solos
✦ Track view
✦ Track height
✦ Volume levels
That’s a lot of parameters, but don’t let this long list fool you into thinking
that grouping links everything associated with your tracks. Some parameters
are not linked when you use the grouping feature, including
✦ Creating plug-in instances
✦ Output assignments
✦ Panning
✦ Record enables
✦ Send panning
✦ Voice assignments
Having these parameters independent when tracks are grouped is nice
because many times, these parameters vary from track to track. For example, you don’t want the same plug-ins on all your drum tracks or the same
panning setting on all backup vocal tracks. (Both of these are great candidates for grouping.)
Grouping Tracks
251
Creating groups
You can create groups by following these steps:
1. In either the Edit window or the Mix window, Shift-click the tracks
you want in your group.
Which window you use as your starting point doesn’t matter. Whatever
groups are created in one window automatically get created in the other
window.
2. Choose Track➪Group from the main menu, or New Group from the
Group drop-down menu (the menu you open by clicking and holding
the Group title in the Groups list section of the Edit or the Mix
window).
The Create Group dialog box appears, as shown in Figure 1-12.
3. Enter a name for your group in the Name field.
4. Use the radio buttons in the Type section to choose which window(s)
will show your new group.
Your choices here are
• Edit: When you want the group listed just in the Edit window
• Mix: When you want the group listed just in the Mix window
• Edit and Mix: When you want your group listed in both windows
Book III
Chapter 1
Taking Care
of Tracks
Figure 1-12:
The Create
Group
dialog box
lets you
create a
new group.
252
Grouping Tracks
5. Choose a group ID from the ID drop-down menu.
The group ID is a single letter that defines your group. This lets you see
which group a track is in at a glance. (The group ID for a track is located
beneath the track’s level meters in the mix window.)
6. Click OK.
The Create Group dialog box closes, and your new group appears in the
Edit, the Mix, or both the Edit and the Mix windows (depending on your
choice in Step 4).
If a track in a group is hidden in the Show/Hide Tracks list, that track won’t
be affected by edits done to that group. All mix operations — with the
notable exception of Record Enable — do apply to hidden tracks, though.
Enabling groups
Before you can work with grouped tracks, you need to enable the group,
which you do by clicking the group name in the Groups list. (You’ll find the
Edit Groups list in the lower-left side of the Edit window; the Mix Groups
list is in the lower-left side of the Mix window. If they aren’t visible, click
the double arrow at the bottom-left corner of the Mix or the Edit window,
respectively.) Highlighting in blue means the group is enabled. Click the
group again to disable it. The blue highlight will disappear.
You can also enable and disable groups using a keystroke on your keyboard
in the Mix window by simply pressing the key for the group ID. To do
the same thing in the Edit window, you need to first make sure that the
Commands Focus (A-Z) button to the right of the Edit Groups name is highlighted, as shown in Figure 1-13. (How will you know that it’s highlighted?
That’s easy. In its highlighted state, a blue border surrounds the box.)
Figure 1-13:
Highlight the
Edit Group
List Key
Focus.
Editing groups
After you set up some groups, you don’t have to treat them as if they were
set in stone. You can add — or subtract — members to the group, you can
change the group name, or you can just delete the group altogether. These
options are covered in the following sections.
Grouping Tracks
253
Renaming a group
Follow these steps to rename a group:
1. Double-click the area to the left of the group name in the Groups list.
The Modify Groups dialog box appears.
The Edit Groups list is located in the lower-left side of the Edit window;
the Mix Groups list is in the lower-left side of the Mix window. If they
aren’t visible, click the double arrow at the bottom-left corner of the Mix
or the Edit window, respectively.
2. Type in your new name in the Name field.
3. Click OK.
Your group gets a spanking new name.
Adding a track to a group
You can add a track to an existing group by doing the following:
1. Double-click the area to the left of the group name in the Groups list.
The Modify Groups dialog box appears.
2. Select tracks from the Available window.
3. Click the Add button.
Book III
Chapter 1
The selected tracks instantly appear in the Currently in Group window.
The selected tracks are added to the group selected in Step 1.
Deleting groups
You can delete unwanted groups by doing the following:
1. Click the name of the group in the Groups list.
Again, you find the Edit Groups list in the lower left of the Edit window,
and the Mix Groups list in the lower left of the Mix window. If they aren’t
visible, click the double arrow at the bottom-left corner of the Mix or
Edit the window, respectively.
2. Click the Groups drop-down menu (opened by clicking and holding
the Group title in the Groups list section of the Edit or Mix window)
and choose Delete Active Group.
You’ll be asked whether you’re sure you want to do this because after
you do, there’s no changing your mind. Proceed if you’re sure you don’t
ever want to use that group again.
Your group is history.
Taking Care
of Tracks
4. Click OK.
254
Grouping Tracks
Linking edit and mix groups
When you create a new group, you have the option of making that group an
Edit group, a Mix group, or a combination Edit/Mix group. Regardless of
which option you choose, by default, functions done in either the Edit or the
Mix windows will affect groups in both. For example, if you have a drum
group in your Mix window consisting of kick, snare, toms, and overheads,
and you want to edit a bad note out of the snare drum in the Edit window,
you end up editing not only the snare drum note but also the audio from the
other members of the drum group you assigned in the Mix window.
This might be what you want most of the time, but maybe you don’t want
the default — where Edit or Mix functions affect entire groups. The way to
get around this is to disable the Link Edit and Mix Groups option in the
Preferences dialog box. Do so by following these steps:
1. Choose Setup➪Preferences from the main menu.
The Preferences dialog box appears.
2. Click the Mixing tab in the Preferences dialog box and look under the
heading Setup.
You see a screen that looks like Figure 1-14.
3. Deselect the Link Mix/Edit Group Enables option.
Figure 1-14:
The Link
Mix/Edit
Group
Enables
options.
Managing Track Voices
255
Soloing and Muting
Soloing and muting tracks is a big part of the mix process. By being able
to hear only those tracks you want to hear at a given time, you can find
unwanted sounds lurking in your tracks by soloing the suspected track, or
you can turn off the lead vocal when you tweak the backup vocals. You can
solo and mute each track in the Edit window by clicking the Solo or the
Mute button (respectively), located underneath the track name, as shown
on the left side of Figure 1-15. You can do the same thing in the Mix window
by clicking the Solo and Mute buttons located above the volume fader, as
shown on the right side of Figure 1-15. Check out Book III, Chapter 4 for
more on these windows and the location of the Solo and Mute buttons.
Soloing a track turns the mute function on for the rest of the tracks. You can
solo and mute more than one track at a time. Choose the appropriate button
for each track.
Mute
Solo
Solo
Mute
Figure 1-15:
The Solo
and Mute
buttons are
located on
each track
in the Edit
(left) and
Mix (right)
windows.
Book III
Chapter 1
Taking Care
of Tracks
Managing Track Voices
Pro Tools has 32 available voices. This means that you can have only
32 different mono tracks playing or recording at one time. (With stereo, you
can have only 16 tracks because each stereo track uses two voices.) Because
having more than 32 tracks in a session isn’t that uncommon, you need ways
to manage the 32 available voices so you can hear all your tracks (or at least
the important ones). This can be done one of two ways: setting voice assignments for each track, and setting voice priority. The next two sections give
you the skinny on each method.
256
Managing Track Voices
Assigning voices
In Pro Tools, the controls for each track let you choose between Off and Dyn
for voice assignments. Figure 1-16 shows the Voice Assignment menu in the
Edit (left) and the Mix (right) windows. With a tracks voice assignment set to
Off, the track won’t play. If you have the track’s voice set to Dyn, Pro Tools
automatically turns that track on and off according to how many voices are
available for playback and where this particular track sits in the Voice
Priority listing. (See the next section for more on voice priorities.)
Figure 1-16:
You can
choose the
voice
assignment
for each
track in the
Edit (left)
and Mix
(right)
windows.
For example, if you have a session containing 33 tracks, only 32 will play at
any one time. Now, if you have one track (rhythm guitar) that plays only
during the verse and another track (lead guitar) that plays only during the
chorus, you can get these two tracks to trade off so that only one at a time
uses the available voice amongst the 32 — and everybody’s happy because
every note recorded will get heard.
Imagine, though, that both guitar parts have to play in the bridge section of
the song. In this game of musical chairs, one part won’t find one of the 32
available “slots” — and won’t play. Which part ends up being silenced is
determined by how high up the part sits in the list of tracks. You can choose
how high by setting the voice priority of each track, something I cover in the
next section.
Setting voice priority
Because Pro Tools allows you to play only 32 voices but lets you have more
tracks than that in your session, you might need to do some finagling among
the available voices if you want every track (or at least the most important
ones) to be heard throughout the song. To pull off this trick, you have to set
the voice priority of each track.
Managing Track Voices
257
Voice priority is determined by the track’s position in the tracks list in the
Edit and the Mix windows: The higher its place in the list, the higher its priority for voice assignment. You can increase the voice priority of a track the
following ways:
✦ Using the Show/Hide Tracks List: Click and hold with the pointer over
the track you want, and drag that track up the list.
✦ Using the Edit Window: Click and drag the name of the track up the list.
✦ Using the Mix Window: Click and drag the name of the track to the left
on the list.
The higher up the list a track is, the higher its priority and the stronger its
claim on the available voices when you assign voices.
Freeing up a voice from a track
Because you can’t make every track the highest priority, here are other ways
to free up (or at least control) how your available voices get used. If you can
identify a voice that’s less crucial at a given moment, you can free that voice
from a track by doing one of the following:
✦ Turn the voice assignment to Off. From the Voice Assignment menu,
choose (logically enough) Off. (See the “Assigning voices” section,
earlier in this chapter, for more on the Voice Assignment menu.)
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Chapter 1
✦ Turn off any output or send assignments for that track.
Taking Care
of Tracks
258
Book III: Recording Audio
Chapter 2: Miking: Getting
a Great Source Sound
In This Chapter
Exploring microphone techniques
Miking drums
Miking amplified instruments
Miking acoustic instruments
Y
ou can do all the right things to get your Pro Tools software ready
to record tracks (see Book III, Chapter 1 for more on that topic), but it
won’t mean diddly if you don’t know how to set up your mics properly.
As you’ll soon find out, the location of a microphone in relation to your
instrument or a singer has a huge impact on the sound of your recording. In
fact, just a movement of an inch or two or even a slight turn of the mic can
bring out different characteristics in the sound. The art of placing mics is
one that you will undoubtedly spend a lifetime discovering.
In this chapter, you discover the fundamentals of using microphones to get
a good source sound. You explore tried-and-true miking methods along with
some practical miking tips and tricks that you can use right away. You also
examine the use of compression and mic placement to control and eliminate
transients — the usual peaks in the instrument’s sound.
Tracing Typical Microphone Techniques
Regardless of the style of microphone you use — or the type of instrument
you record — you can use one or more of the following mic placement
techniques to capture the sound you want:
✦ Spot (or close) miking: Put your microphone within a couple feet of the
sound source. This includes instrument-mounted mics.
✦ Distant miking: Pull your mic back three to five feet from the sound.
✦ Ambient miking: Place your mic way back in a room.
✦ Stereo miking: Set up two mics at various distances from one another.
260
Tracing Typical Microphone Techniques
✦ Combining miking strategies: Use a combination of the four traditional
placement strategies listed here.
This section introduces you to the four traditional mic placement strategies
employed in recording. I cover the characteristics and purposes of each of
these four methods and get a look at how each relates to a particular tonal
or sound quality. I also discuss how you can combine these strategies.
Spot miking
Spot miking (also called close miking) involves placing your microphone
within a couple of feet of the sound source. People with a home-recording
setup use this technique most often because it adds little of the room (the
reverb and delay) to the recorded sound. Figure 2-1 shows the spot miking
placement.
With spot miking, where you place the mic is much more crucial than it is
with any other technique. Because the mic is so close to the sound source,
small adjustments to the mic’s placement make a noticeable difference, and
the mic might not capture the complete sound of the instrument. Finding the
spot that sounds the best can take some trial and error.
Figure 2-1:
Spot miking
places a mic
within a
few feet of
the sound
source.
Tracing Typical Microphone Techniques
261
Distant miking
When you use distant miking, you place mics about three or four feet away
from the sound source. (See Figure 2-2.) Distant miking enables you to capture some of the sound of the room along with the instrument. An example
of a distant miking technique is using an overhead drum mic, with which you
can pick up the whole drum set to some extent. Coupled with a few select
spot mics, you can record a natural sound.
Figure 2-2:
Distant
miking
places a
microphone
three or four
feet from
the sound
source.
Book III
Chapter 2
Using ambient miking places the mic far enough away from the sound source
so you capture more of the room sound (the reverb and delay) than the
sound of the actual instrument. (See Figure 2-3.) You can place the mic a
couple of feet away from the source but pointed in the opposite direction, or
you can place it across the room. You can even put the mic in an adjacent
room although this is an unorthodox technique, I’ll admit. The distance that
you choose varies from instrument to instrument. For example, a flute would
need a little closer mic than a double bass would.
Ambient mic placement works well in those places where the room adds to
the sound of the instrument. Home recordists sometimes use stairwells,
bathrooms, or rooms with wood paneling to liven up the sound. The sound
you record is ambient (hence the name): steeped in the sonic qualities of the
surroundings. If you mix this with a spot mic, you can end up with a natural
reverb. If your room doesn’t add to the sound of the instrument, you’re
better off not using any ambient mics. You can always add a room sound
by using effects in the mixing process. (See Book VI, Chapter 5 for more on
using effects.)
Miking: Getting a
Great Source Sound
Ambient miking
262
Tracing Typical Microphone Techniques
Figure 2-3:
Ambient
miking
involves
placing the
mic so it
picks up
more of the
room’s
sound than
the
instrument’s
sound.
Mic
Instrument or ensemble
Stereo miking
Stereo miking involves using two mics to capture the stereo field of the
instrument. You can use a variety of stereo miking techniques as well as
some pretty complicated ways of using two mics to record. The three most
common approaches, however, are X-Y (coincident) pairs, the Blumlein
technique, and spaced pairs. You can also find stereo mics that do a good
job on their own of capturing the stereo field of an instrument.
Stereo miking has the advantage of capturing a natural stereo image. When
you listen to performances that were recorded with well-placed stereo
miking, you can hear exactly where on the stage each instrument performed.
Of course, there is an art to such wonderful stereo miking. You can’t just
randomly set up a couple of mics in a room and get a good stereo sound.
Capturing a stereo image with two mics requires some careful planning.
X-Y pairs
X-Y (also called coincident) stereo miking uses two mics placed next to each
other so that the diaphragms are at almost-right angles (any where from 90
to 135 degrees) as close together as possible without touching one another.
X-Y stereo miking is the most common type of stereo mic setup and the one
you’ll probably use if you do any stereo miking. Figure 2-4 shows a basic X-Y
setup. Notice how the mics in this figure are attached to a special mounting
bracket. This bracket makes positioning the mics easy.
Tracing Typical Microphone Techniques
263
Figure 2-4:
The X-Y
stereo mic
approach
uses two
matched
microphones
placed
close
together.
Blumlein technique
Spaced pairs
Spaced pair stereo miking places two mics at a distance in front of the instrument(s) you want to record as well as at a distance from one another. This
approach can work well if you record an ensemble that takes up a fairly large
amount of room. Figure 2-6 shows a top view of a typical spaced stereo mic
setup.
One of the most important things to consider when you use spaced pairs for
stereo miking is that they can develop phase problems if you don’t space the
mics properly. For the most part, placing the mics three times further apart
than they are from the sound source takes care of phase problems. This is
the 3:1 rule. (For more on phase problems, see the “Problems with stereo
miking” sidebar in this chapter.)
Book III
Chapter 2
Miking: Getting a
Great Source Sound
The Blumlein technique is named after Alan Dower Blumlein, who patented
this approach in 1931. Blumlein stereo miking involves placing two figure-8
mics in much the same way as the X-Y pattern (at right angles to one
another with the diaphragms as close together as possible). The two mics
are mounted on separate stands, one above the other. The advantage with
this technique is that the figure-8 mics pick up signals from both the front
and back. This produces a very natural sound. You also don’t have to contend with any proximity effects (enhanced bass response that comes from
being close to the sound source) because figure-8 mics don’t produce this
effect. Figure 2-5 shows this technique. (For more on figure-8 mics, see
Book I, Chapter 5.)
264
Tracing Typical Microphone Techniques
Blumlein stereo miking technique
To sound source
Two figure-8 mics (top view)
They're offset by 90°
with each facing 45° off center.
Figure 2-5:
The
Blumlein
technique
uses two
figure-8
mics placed
at right
angles to
one another.
Side view
They're mounted on separate stands
one above the other.
Singers or band/orchestra
Figure 2-6:
To use the
spaced-pair
approach,
place two
mics away
from the
sound
source and
apart from
one another.
The distance between the mics is three times farther
than distance from the sound source.
Mic
Mic
Tracing Typical Microphone Techniques
265
Problems with stereo miking
When you use stereo miking, watch out for
phase cancellation and poor stereo imaging.
Phase cancellation happens when the two
microphones are placed in such a way that each
one receives the sound at a slightly different
time. When this occurs, you don’t hear the bass
as well: The low frequencies drop off. Improper
mic placement — or two mics that are out of
phase with one another — can cause phase
cancellation.
Most digital recorders have a phase switch that
allows you to reverse the phase of the signal.
(Pro Tools lets you do this after it’s recorded.) To
test whether two mics are out of phase, just
reverse the phase on one mic (don’t do both) and
listen whether the low frequencies become
more apparent. If they do, you’ve corrected the
problem and you’re good to go. If this doesn’t
correct the problem, try changing cords on one
of the mics because some mic cords are wired
differently. If this doesn’t work either, you need
to adjust the relationship between the two mics.
Just move one around a little and listen for any
changes in the bass response. When the missing bass appears, you know you’ve solved the
problem.
You have a problem with poor stereo imaging if
you can’t tell clearly where the various instruments or vocals show up from left to right (or
right to left, if that’s how you think), or you can’t
hear a clear center point in the sound. Poor
stereo imaging is a little more difficult to correct
than phase cancellation, but you can fix it.
The solution depends on the stereo miking technique you use. If you use the X-Y technique, you
probably placed your mics too close to the
sound source. If you use the spaced-pairs technique, you probably placed the mics too close to
one another in relation to their distance from the
instruments. In either case, adjusting the placement of your mics should clear up the problem.
If you want to record an instrument in stereo and don’t want the hassle of
fiddling with setting up stereo pairs, you can use a stereo mic. Stereo mics
basically have two diaphragms in them and use a special cord that allows
you to record the output from each diaphragm on a separate track. Take a
look at an inexpensive stereo condenser mic in Figure 2-7.
Mic combinations
Many times, you’ll want to use more than one mic. The possible combinations are almost limitless: You can use several spot mics on one instrument,
you can use a spot mic and an ambient mic, you can have a distant mic and a
spot mic, or. . . . Well, you get my point. I don’t go into detail in this section,
but I do cover some great ideas (if I do say so myself) in the “Setting Up Your
Mics: Some Suggestions” section, later in this chapter.
Miking: Getting a
Great Source Sound
Stereo microphones
Book III
Chapter 2
266
Taming Transients
L R
Figure 2-7:
A stereo
microphone
can do a
good job of
capturing
a natural
stereo
image.
If you do end up using multiple mic combinations, listen for any phase problems. Do a couple of run-throughs to get level and balance, and try to correct
phase troubles before you actually record the performance. Of course, because
you’re using Pro Tools, you can deal with some phase problems later. This is
done one of two ways:
✦ Use the Invert command from the AudioSuites menu. Choose
AudioSuites➪Invert from the main menu.
✦ Move your tracks around in your session to line up the waveforms.
This is time aligning, which I cover in Book IV, Chapter 3.
Taming Transients
The single most difficult part of getting a good sound by using a microphone
is dealing with sudden, extreme increases in the sound signal. These blips
are transients, and they happen when a drum is first struck, when a vocalist
sings certain syllables (for example, those that begin with P), and when a
guitar player picks certain notes. In fact, because you can’t always control
the amount of force that you apply to an instrument, transients can happen
any time — with any instrument — and without warning. (Highly trained
musicians produce fewer transients because they have a greater mastery
over their muscular movements.)
Taming Transients
267
In digital recording, all it takes is one slight, unexpected note to cause clipping and distortion, ruining what might be a perfect musical performance.
Believe me: Nothing is as heart-wrenching as listening to the perfect take and
hearing the unmistakable sound of digital distortion. Although you can’t
eliminate transients completely (they are part of an instrument’s character),
you can tame the extreme transients that often cause digital overs (a thick
signal at too high of a level, resulting in distortion). You can lash ’em down in
three ways:
✦ Set your levels properly so the transients don’t overload the
converters.
✦ Make sure you have proper mic placement.
✦ Run the signal through a compressor when recording.
A compressor is a piece of hardware (not included in your Digidesign
interface) that controls the dynamics of your signal to keep your levels
from getting too high.
Setting your levels properly
Now, in the advanced age of digital, your best bet is to record with 24-bit resolution. Those extra 8 bits gained since the olden days free you from having
to record at the highest level possible. In fact, you can put your max levels
down around –12dB and still end up with great-sounding tracks. Giving yourself that kind of room (called, logically enough, headroom) allows an instrument’s transients to be recorded without causing problems with your
converters.
I highly recommend recording with peak levels no more than –12dB or –10dB
unless you run the incoming signal through a compressor before it hits your
converters. Sure, your tracks will be quieter, but you can deal with that
during mixing (Book VI, Chapter 1) and mastering (Book VII, Chapter 1).
Placing mics properly
A microphone that’s too close to a loud sound source (or pointed too directly
at the point of attack) can easily pick up extreme transients. In most cases,
all you have to do is to pull the mic away from the instrument a little or turn
it ever so slightly so it avoids picking up too high a signal. (I cover mic setup
thoroughly in the “Setting Up Your Mics: Some Suggestions” section.)
Book III
Chapter 2
Miking: Getting a
Great Source Sound
Back in the days of 16-bit digital recording (in ancient times, oh, ten years
or so ago), you wanted to record at as high a level as possible without going
over the maximum of 0 decibels (dB). The idea was to ensure the highestpossible fidelity by using as many of the available 16 bits as possible. If you
recorded at lower levels, you used fewer bits, resulting in lower fidelity and
higher noise levels.
268
Taming Transients
The main thing to keep in mind when placing your microphones is to experiment. Don’t be afraid to spend time making small adjustments. After all, the
track you save could be your own.
Compressing carefully
Compressors are processors that allow you to control the dynamics of a
signal — extremes of loudness or softness — and boy, are they ever versatile. You can use them on the front end while tracking (recording) instruments to ward off any stray transients. You can use them to level off an
erratic performance. And you can use them to raise the overall apparent
level of a mixed song. In this section, you explore the first use of compression: the control of transients. (You can find out about the other ways to use
compression in Book VI, Chapter 3 and in Book VII, Chapter 2.)
The compressor is an invaluable tool when you record digitally because it
enables you to record at high levels without worrying as much about digital
clipping. The only problem is that the careful use of compression is an art
that normally takes a while to get the hang of. Don’t worry, though. In this
chapter, you get some guidelines for using compression. And in Book VI,
Chapter 4, I offer quite a few conservative compression settings for a variety
of instruments to get you started.
Pro Tools includes a compressor plug-in with the software program.
You can use this built-in compression if you’re tweaking a session you
already recorded. For that matter, you can use this feature when you’re
recording your tracks, but that won’t do you any good. Remember that the
Pro Tools compression system is digital: It can’t work with analog signals.
Your signal has to go through the A/D converter (and get changed from
analog to digital) on its way to being recorded. The A/D converter in your
Digidesign interface — not the compression plug-in — is first in line after the
preamp. All this defeats the purpose of using a compressor to control transients. (Bummer.) In fact, the A/D converter is usually where you often get
your first dose of distortion. (Ditto.) If you’re serious about using compression on the front end to tame those transients, consider using an external
preamp that you can insert into the signal chain before the A/D converter:
that is, before the signal gets to your Digidesign interface.
Compressors have a series of dials that allow you to adjust several
parameters:
✦ Threshold: This setting dictates the level at which the compressor
starts to act on the signal, listed in decibels. For the most part, you want
to set the threshold level so the compressor acts on only the highest
peaks of the signal.
Taming Transients
269
✦ Ratio: This setting determines the amount that the compressor affects
the signal. The ratio — such as 2:1, for instance — means that for every
decibel that the signal goes over the threshold setting, it is reduced by
two. In other words, if a signal goes 1dB over the threshold setting, its
output from the compressor will only be ƒ 1/2 dB louder. The ratio is the
one parameter that varies considerably from instrument to instrument
because the level of the transient varies.
✦ Attack: This knob controls how soon the compressor starts, well,
compressing. The attack is defined in milliseconds (ms); the lower the
number, the faster the attack. For the most part, you’re trying to control
transients, and they happen at the beginning of a note. Therefore, you
want the attack set to act quickly.
✦ Release: This parameter controls how long the compressor continues
to affect the note after it starts. Like the attack, the release is defined
in milliseconds. Because transients don’t last very long, your best bet
is usually a short release time if you’re using compression on the
front end.
✦ Gain: Use this knob to adjust the level of the signal leaving the compressor. The setting is listed in decibels. Because adding compression
generally reduces the overall level of the sound, you use this control to
raise the level back up to where it was going in.
• A hard knee applies the compression at an even rate, regardless of
how far over the threshold the level is. Thus, if you choose a compression setting of 4:1, the compressor applies this ratio for any
signal over the threshold limit. Hard-knee compression is used for
instruments such as drums, where you need to clamp down on any
transients quickly.
• The soft knee, by contrast, applies the compression at a varying rate
that depends on how far over the threshold setting the signal is. The
compressor gradually increases the ratio of the compression as the
signal crosses the threshold until the amount matches the level you
set. Soft-knee compression is used on vocals and on instruments
where the signal doesn’t have fast peaks.
Using compression is an art form. There is no one way to get the sound
you want. Although I go into detail on compression and offer some great
compressor settings for a variety of applications in Book VI, Chapter 4, keep
in mind a couple of things while you think about using compression on
your tracks:
Book III
Chapter 2
Miking: Getting a
Great Source Sound
✦ Hard knee or soft knee: Most compressors give you the option of
choosing one or the other of these odd-sounding settings (or they do it
for you, based on the setting you’ve chosen). Both refer to how the
compressor behaves as the input signal passes the threshold.
270
Setting Up Your Mics: Some Suggestions
✦ You can always add compression to a recorded track, but you can
never take it away. If you’re not sure how much compression to apply
to a particular situation, you’re much better off erring on the side of
too little because you can always run the sound through another compressor if you need to.
✦ If you can hear a change in the sound of your signal, you most likely
have it set too high. The reason to use a compressor on the front end is
to eliminate extreme transients, which you can’t hear when you play
anyway. If your compression setting changes the sound at all, you would
want to turn it down slightly — unless, of course, you’re going for that
effect.
Setting Up Your Mics: Some Suggestions
When you start to record, you discover an almost infinite number of ways to
set up your mics. I can’t go into them all here (as if I really knew them all,
anyway), but what I can do is share the miking approaches that I use and
have found to work for me. Okay, they’re not just my approaches; they’re
pretty common ways for miking a variety of instruments.
Telling you that a particular mic position will work for you is like telling you
that you’ll like a particular ice cream flavor. I don’t know your tastes, goals,
or specific recording conditions, so I can’t truly know what will work for you
beforehand. Think of the miking techniques in this chapter as a starting
point — and don’t be afraid to experiment until you find the sound you want.
There’s no absolute right or wrong when it comes to miking. There’s only
what works for you and what doesn’t. (Book I, Chapter 5 talks more about
microphone types and how they’re used.)
Vocals
Regardless of the type of studio you have or the style of music that you
record, you’ll probably record vocals at some point. And unfortunately,
vocals are one of the most challenging instruments to do well. First, you
have to find the right mic for the person who’s singing, and then you need to
try different approaches in order to get the best sound out of him or her.
Fortunately, you’re in luck. In the next few sections, I lead you through the
(sometimes complicated) process of getting good lead and backup vocal
sounds.
The room and the vocals
To get the best recording of vocals possible, you need a dead room — a
room with no reverberation. (Book I, Chapter 2 has some tips on how to
Setting Up Your Mics: Some Suggestions
271
deaden your room.) Recording vocals in a dead room gives a sense of “presence” and allows you to add compression to the vocals without making them
sound distant. (This results because the compressor raises the level of the
background noise, particularly the reverberation from a live room that
bounces the sound around a lot.)
The easiest way to deaden your room for vocal recording is to hang curtains,
carpet, or blankets around the room, or to use the absorbent side of the
reflector/absorber panels that I discuss in Book I, Chapter 2. Try to cover
the area in front — and to both sides — of the vocal with sound-absorbent
materials. (If you use the reflector/absorber panels that I describe in Book I,
Chapter 2, you’d better use the stands because the panels are only four
feet tall.)
The mics and the vocals
You have a lot of options for miking vocals. The type of mic you use dictates
where you place it. Here’s the gist:
✦ Dynamic mic: Dynamic mics sound best when you place them close to
the singer’s mouth. The effect that you get is gritty. (Huh? Okay, by
gritty, I mean dirty. That’s no help either? Let me see. . . .)
To set up a dynamic mic for this purpose, just put it on a stand so the
singer can get his or her mouth right up against the windscreen. With
this type of singing style, I recommend a compressor setting that pumps
and breathes — that is, you can hear the compressor working. See my
discussion of compression in Book VI, Chapter 4 for a recommended
setting.
✦ Large-diaphragm condenser mic: Large-diaphragm condenser mics are
those most commonly used for vocals. These mics can clearly reproduce the entire audible frequency spectrum, emphasizing the low mids
slightly at the same time. What you get is a nice warm, full-bodied
sound. (That sounds like I’m describing a wine.) The proximity effect
(how close the singer is to the mic) determines how nice and warmbodied the sound is. The closer the singer is, the deeper and richer the
tone can be.
Book III
Chapter 2
Miking: Getting a
Great Source Sound
Dynamic mics produce a midrange-dominated sound: The high frequencies aren’t reproduced well. You’ll find that when a singer sings with the
mic right in front of his or her mouth, the sound lacks even more high frequencies because of the proximity effect. That is, close range enhances
the low-frequency response. What you get is a deep, bass-heavy sound
that’s often described as gritty or dirty. This type of sound can be great
for matching the mood of some styles of rock and blues music.
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Setting Up Your Mics: Some Suggestions
When you set up a large-diaphragm condenser mic for vocals, place the
mic in such a way that the nasty sibilants (the sound from singing S and
Sh sounds) and pesky plosives (pops from singing P and T syllables)
don’t mess up your recordings. To deal with plosives and sibilants, you
can either use a pop filter (see Book I, Chapter 2) or have the singer sing
past (instead of right into) the mic. If you want the singer to sing past
the mic, you can
• Place the mic above the singer and set it at an angle pointing away
from him or her. (See the left side of Figure 2-8.)
• Set up the mic below the singer and angle it away from him or her.
(See the right side of Figure 2-8.)
• Put the mic off to the side and face it toward the singer (the center of
Figure 2-8) but not squarely in the path of the vocal.
Figure 2-8:
Place the
mic at
different
angles to
control
sibilance
and
plosives.
Mic
Singer
✦ Small-diaphragm condenser mic: Small-diaphragm condenser mics
create a much brighter, airier sound than their large-diaphragm cousins.
You don’t get the low-mid warmth of the large-diaphragm beast, so a
small-diaphragm mic probably won’t be your first choice as a vocal mic
unless (for example) you’re recording a female vocalist with a soprano
voice and you want to catch the more ethereal quality of her higher
frequencies.
You set up a small-diaphragm mic the same way you set up a large
diaphragm mic.
✦ Ribbon mic: A ribbon mic is a good choice if you’re looking for an
intimate, crooner-type sound. (Think Frank Sinatra.) The ribbon mic is
thought to add a silky sound to the singer’s voice, produced by a slight
dropoff in the high frequencies (not as severe as you’d get from a
dynamic mic). To my drum-abused ears, ribbon mics have a kind of
softness that large-diaphragm condenser mics don’t have. The sound is
more even, without the pronounced low-mid effect.
Setting Up Your Mics: Some Suggestions
273
If you use a ribbon mic, you can set it up the same way you set up a condenser mic. You just need to be more careful about singing directly into
a ribbon mic because the ribbon can break if you sing, speak, or breathe
too hard into it.
Backup vocals
To record backup vocals, you can either track each part separately (using
the same mic placement techniques that I describe earlier), or you can
have all the backup singers sing at once into one or two mics. If you go for
the latter method, you can use a stereo pair of mics, a figure-8 mic, or an
omnidirectional mic.
If you use a stereo pair, I recommend setting them up in a coincident X-Y
pattern. Have the vocalists stand next to each other, facing the mics at a
distance of about three or four feet. Either large- or small-diaphragm mics
work best for this setup. Check out Figure 2-9 for a neat top view of this
arrangement.
If you choose to use a figure-8 mic, the singers can be placed at opposite
sides of the mic (see Figure 2-10). The advantage of this setup is that the
singers can look at each other while they sing, which helps keep the
vocals tight.
Book III
Chapter 2
Miking: Getting a
Great Source Sound
Mics
Figure 2-9:
The X-Y
stereo
miking
pattern can
work well
for backup
vocals.
Sin
r
ge
ge
Sin
r
Singer
274
Setting Up Your Mics: Some Suggestions
An omnidirectional mic can also work well for backup vocals. In this case,
the singers stand in a circle around the mic, as shown in Figure 2-11.
Singer
Mic
Figure 2-10:
Backup
singers can
stand on
either side
of a figure-8
mic and see
each other.
Singer
Figure 2-11:
Singers
stand in a
circle
around an
omnidirectional
mic.
Mic
Singer
Singer
Singer
Singer
Setting Up Your Mics: Some Suggestions
275
Electric guitar
Miking your electric guitar is a personal thing. Every guitar player, it seems
to me (although I don’t play guitar, so what do I know?), spends an awful
lot of time getting his or her “sound.” If you’re a real guitar player, you
undoubtedly take great pride in getting your sound exactly right on tape —
er, disc. You likely spend countless hours tweaking your amp and adjusting
the mic to get it just right. On the other hand, if you’re not a (harrumph)
“real” guitar player, you might just want to record the part and get it over
with. Either way, you can start looking for that perfect guitar sound by placing your mics in one (or more) of the ways that I outline later in this chapter.
The room and the guitar
Whether you play through a small jazz chorus amp or power-chord your way
through a six-foot Marshall stack, the room that you play in has less impact
on your sound than it does if you play drums or sing. For the most part, look
for a room that is fairly dead — a room without natural reverberation. You
can always add effects later.
Guitar miking involves mostly spot mics, so your only consideration when
recording a guitar and using an amp is how your neighbors feel about the
noise, er, your most excellent guitar playing.
The mics and the guitar
The type of mic you choose depends largely on the type of sound you’re
looking for. For example, if you’re looking for a distorted rock guitar sound
with effects, you can get by just fine with a dynamic mic. If you favor a
clean sound, a small-diaphragm condenser mic might work better for you.
If you’re going for a warm, full-bodied sound, try using a large-diaphragm
condenser mic.
No matter which type of mic you use, you get the best sound from your amp
speakers by putting the mic about 2 to 12 inches away from the cabinet, with
the mic pointing directly at the cone of one of the amp speakers (specifically,
the center of the speaker, which is that cone-shaped thing in the box). You
can see this positioning in Figure 2-12.
Book III
Chapter 2
Miking: Getting a
Great Source Sound
If you have finicky neighbors, you can put your guitar amp inside an ampisolator box (see Book I, Chapter 2) to cut down on the noise. You can find
the plans to build one on my Web site, www.jeffstrong.com. (Or, hey, you
could try plugging the guitar directly into your Digidesign interface. You
might like the sound you get. More about that in a minute.)
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Setting Up Your Mics: Some Suggestions
Figure 2-12:
Start by
placing a
mic near the
cone of a
speaker in
your amp.
You might want to experiment with how far the mic is from the amp and the
angle at which you point it. Sometimes just a slight movement in or out, left
or right, can make all the difference in the world. You can even try pointing
the mic at different speakers (if your amp has more than one) because each
speaker has a slightly different sound.
For speaker cabinets that have more than one speaker, I know some
engineers who actually disconnect all but one speaker to lower the overall
volume without losing the intense, distorted sound. This can be especially
beneficial if you have one of those amp stacks with a volume knob that
goes to 11, and you just gotta crank the amp to get your “tone.” (Come on,
rockers, you know who you are.) This way you don’t overload the mic
(which creates the wrong kind of distortion) and can still get that nasty
sound you’re looking for.
If you can’t quite get the sound that you want from your amp with the one
mic pointed at the speaker cone, try adding a second mic about three or four
feet away — also pointed directly at the speaker cone — to get a more ambient sound. This arrangement might also give your sound more life, especially
if you have a room with natural reverberation. If you add a second mic,
however, remember to watch for phase differences between the mics and
make adjustments accordingly. (I discuss phase cancellation earlier in this
chapter.)
Setting Up Your Mics: Some Suggestions
277
Are you sick of the same old sound coming out of your amp? Wanna really
shake things up (and I mean this literally)? Well, put your guitar amp in a
tiled bathroom and crank it up. You can put a mic in the bathroom with your
amp (a couple of feet away) and maybe another one just outside the door
(experiment with how much you close or open the door). The effect is,
well. . . . Try it and find out for yourself.
Electric bass
When you mic an electric bass, getting a good sound can be a real bear.
Your two adversaries are muddiness (lack of definition) and thinness (a pronounced midrange tone). These seem almost polar-opposite characteristics,
but they can both exist at the same time. I outline the best way to avoid
these problems in the following sections.
Running your bass guitar directly into the board — via a direct box, your
amp’s Line Out jack, or a preamped input on your Digidesign interface —
gives the guitar a punchier sound.
The room and the bass
Don’t be afraid to be creative and to try recording your bass in different
rooms. Look for a room with a warm sound to it. One thing, though: The
bathroom amp trick doesn’t work too well for a bass guitar, but it can be fun
to try anyway.
The mics and the bass
Because the bass guitar produces low frequencies, a dynamic mic or a
large-diaphragm condenser mic works well. I personally avoid using smalldiaphragm condensers and ribbon mics for an electric bass, but try them if
you want. Who knows? You might end up with an awesome bass track.
Mic placement for the electric bass is similar to the guitar; you place a
single mic 2 to 12 inches away from one of the speakers. Sometimes, with
bass, you can angle the mic and let the speaker’s sound kind of drift past the
diaphragm. Potentially, it’s a great sound. For a bass, skip the distant mic
(which generally just adds muddiness to the sound).
Book III
Chapter 2
Miking: Getting a
Great Source Sound
The sound of an electric bass guitar can get muddy awfully fast. Your best
bet is to choose a room that doesn’t have a lot of reflective surfaces (such as
paneled walls and wooden floors) that bounce the sound around. A dead
room is easier to work with. Don’t make your room too dead, however, or it
just sucks the life out of your amp’s tone. If you can get your amp to sound
good in your room, placing the mic properly is easy.
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Setting Up Your Mics: Some Suggestions
Acoustic guitars and such
At the risk of offending banjo, dobro, or ukulele players, I’m lumping all
guitarlike (strummed or picked) acoustic string instruments together.
I know, they all sound and play differently, but the microphone-placement
techniques are similar for all these instruments. Allow me to explain.
Because all these instruments have a resonating chamber and are played
with the instrument facing forward, you can pretty much use the same mic
placement for any of them. You use different types of mics for different
instruments, and I get to that in a minute.
The room and acoustic instruments
For recording acoustic instruments, the room plays a role in the sound that
you end up recording. Unless you have a great-sounding room, you want to
minimize its impact on your instrument’s sound. You can do this in a couple
of ways:
✦ By recording with spot mics
✦ By placing absorber/reflectors in strategic places around your room
• Absorberside-out (toward the walls) if the room is too live
• Reflector-side-out if the room is too dead
For example, if your studio is in a spare bedroom with carpeting and that
awful popcorn stuff on the ceiling, you can put a couple of the reflector
panels around your guitar player and the mic. This adds some reverberation
to your guitar. Any unwanted reflections from the ceiling or walls are
shielded from the mics because the absorber sides of the panels are facing
the rest of the room.
The mics and the acoustic instruments
I prefer to use condenser mics when recording acoustic instruments. The
type of condenser mic you use depends on the overall tonal quality that you
want to capture or emphasize. For example, if a guitar has a nice, woody
sound that you want to bring out in the recording, a large-diaphragm condenser mic is a good choice. On the other hand, if you’re trying to capture
the brightness of a banjo, a small-diaphragm mic is a better choice.
You can position your microphone in a variety of ways, and each accents
certain aspects of the instrument’s sound. Even a slight adjustment to the
mic can have a significant impact on the sound. You might have to experiment quite a bit to figure out exactly where to put a mic.
Setting Up Your Mics: Some Suggestions
279
To help with your experimentation, listen to the guitar carefully and move
the mic around (closer in and farther out, to the left and right) until you find
a spot that sounds particularly good. You need to get your ears close to the
guitar to do this.
Here are some suggestions to get you started:
✦ Put the mic about 6 to 18 inches away from and 3 to 4 inches below
the point where the neck meets the body of the guitar (or banjo, or
whatever). Then make minor adjustments to the direction in which the
mic points. Pointing it toward the sound hole(s) often gives you a richer,
deeper tone. (This can translate to muddiness on some instruments.)
Turning the mic more toward the neck brings out the instrument’s
brighter qualities. (See the image on the left in Figure 2-13.)
✦ Place a mic about three feet away from the instrument and point it
directly at the sound hole. At this distance, you capture the rich sound
from the sound hole and the attack of the strings. See the center image
in Figure 2-13.
✦ Put a mic about six inches out from the bridge of the guitar. Try pointing
the mic in different directions (slight movements of an inch or less can
make a huge difference) until you find the spot that sounds best to you.
See the image on the right in Figure 2-13.
Figure 2-13:
Position the
mic like this
to produce
a good
acoustic
instrument
sound.
Book III
Chapter 2
Miking: Getting a
Great Source Sound
✦ Try setting up a mic at about the same distance and angle from the
instrument as the player’s ears. Point the mic down toward the instrument so the mic is a couple of inches away from either side of the
musician’s head. This is an unorthodox approach that I like because
I’ve found that guitar players adjust their playing style and intonation to
correspond to what they’re hearing when they play. With this technique,
you’re trying to capture exactly what the musician hears.
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Setting Up Your Mics: Some Suggestions
Drum set
If you’re like most musicians, getting great-sounding drums seems like one of
the world’s great mysteries. (You know, along the lines of how the pyramids
were built or how to cure cancer.) You can hear big, fat drums on great
albums but when you try to record your drums, they always end up sounding more like cardboard boxes than drums. Fret not (hey, at least I didn’t say
that in the guitar section) because I have solutions for you.
First things first: Tuning your drums
The single most important part of getting killer drum sounds is to make sure
your drums are tuned properly and that they have good heads on them.
(Okay, that’s two things.) Seriously, if you spend some time getting the
drums to sound good in your room, you’re already halfway to the drum
sound of your dreams. There isn’t space to go into detail here (especially if
you play a large kit), but if you want specific drum-tuning guidance, you can
do a search on the Internet or (ahem) check out a copy of my book, Drums
For Dummies (Wiley).
You’re looking for a clear, open tone on your drums. By and large, resist the
temptation to apply duct tape or other dampeners to the drumheads. Drums
that are deadened and don’t ring clearly are definitely going to sound like
cardboard boxes when you record them.
After you get your drums tuned as well as you can, the next step is to take
care of any rattles that might be coming from the stands or mounting hardware. Tighten up any loose hardware and move any stands that may be
touching one another. You might need to make some small adjustments to
the pitches of your drums if they’re causing any hardware to rattle.
If you still have some ringing or unwanted overtones, you can deaden the
drums slightly. Cotton gauze taped lightly on the edge of the head (away
from the drummer) is often enough. If you want a really dry sound on your
snare drum, you can use the wallet trick: Have the drummer place his or her
wallet on the head. (Use the drummer’s wallet — it’ll probably be lighter
because of all the money that isn’t in it.)
When the tuning of your drums is perfect, you’re ready to start placing some
microphones. You can choose from an unlimited number of miking configurations, only a few of which I can cover here. (It would take a whole book to
cover them all.)
The room and the drums
The room influences the drums’ sound more than it influences that of the
other instruments. If you’re looking for a big drum sound, you need a fairly
live room (one with lots of reflection).
Setting Up Your Mics: Some Suggestions
281
I know you’re thinking, “But all I have to work with is a bedroom for a studio,
and it’s carpeted.” No worries; you can work with that. Remember, if you
have a home studio, potentially you have your whole home to work with.
Here are a couple of ideas to spark your imagination:
✦ Buy three or four 4' x 2' sheets of plywood and lean them up against the
walls of your room. Also place one on the floor just in front of the kick
drum. This adds some reflective surfaces to the room.
✦ Put the drums in your garage (or living room, or any other room with a
reverberating sound) and run long mic cords to your mixer. If you have a
laptop computer for your Pro Tools system, you can just throw it under
your arm and move everything into your garage. Or, better yet, take all
this stuff to a really great-sounding room and record.
✦ Set up your drums in a nice-sounding room and place an additional mic
just outside the door to catch some additional ambient sound. You can
then mix this with the other drum tracks to add a different quality of
reverberation to the drums.
Kick (bass) drum considerations
The mic of choice for most recording engineers when recording a kick drum
is a dynamic mic. In fact, you can find some large-diaphragm, dynamic mics
specifically designed to record kick drums.
That said, you can place your mic in several ways (all conveniently illustrated in Figure 2-14):
✦ Near the inside head: If you take off the outside head or cut a hole in it,
you can stick the mic inside the drum. Place the mic two to three inches
away from the inside head and a couple of inches off center. This is the
standard way to mic a kick drum if you have the outside head off or if a
hole is cut in it. This placement gives you a sharp attack from the beater
hitting the head.
✦ Halfway inside the drum: You can modify the preceding miking technique by moving the mic back so it’s about halfway inside the drum. In
this case, place the mic right in the middle, pointing at where the beater
strikes the drum. This placement gives you less of the attack of the
beater striking the head and more of the body of the drum’s sound.
Miking: Getting a
Great Source Sound
No matter where you place the mic, you can reduce the amount of boominess that you get from the drum by placing a pillow or blanket inside the
drum. Some people choose to let the pillow or blanket touch the inside
head. I prefer to keep it a couple of inches away from the inside head, but
sometimes it’s okay to let it touch the outside head.
Book III
Chapter 2
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Setting Up Your Mics: Some Suggestions
✦ Near the outside head: If you have both heads on the drum, you can
place the mic a few inches from the outside head. If you want a more
open, boomy sound (and you have the drum’s pitch set fairly high),
point the mic directly at the center of the head. If you want less boom,
offset the mic a little and point it about two-thirds of the way toward
the center.
Figure 2-14:
You can
place a mic
in several
places to
get a good
kick drum
sound.
If your drum sounds thin after trying these mic placement approaches, you
can try these two things:
✦ Tune the drum slightly higher. In your quest for a deep bass tone, you
might have tuned the drum too low. (This is especially common if you
have a large bass drum.) In this case, the drum’s fundamental tone might
be too low to be heard clearly. Raising the pitch a bit usually solves the
problem.
✦ Create a tunnel with acoustic panels. Putting the mic in the tunnel often
helps if you have a room that’s too dead. Place two of the panels on their
sides (reflective surfaces facing into the room) with one end of each
panel near the outside of the drum. Angle the panels out so that where
they are farthest from the drum set, the distance between them is just
less than four feet. Then lay the other two panels (reflective surface
facing down) across the side panels to create a tunnel. You can also
place a piece of plywood on the floor under these panels to further
increase the resonance. Place the mic halfway into the tunnel, facing the
center of the drum.
Snare drum considerations
A snare drum is probably the most important drum in popular music. The
bass guitar can cover the kick drum’s rhythm, and the rest of the drums
aren’t part of the main groove. A good, punchy snare drum can make a
track, whereas a weak, thin one can eliminate the drive that most popular
music needs.
Setting Up Your Mics: Some Suggestions
283
What type of drum set?
If you want to buy a drum set for your studio, here
are some guidelines that have worked for me:
works, I just choose what I like to look at) on
the bottom of the drum.
Smaller drums can sound bigger. At one
Use cymbals with a fast decay. Cymbals that
point, I had two top-notch Gretsch drum sets
in my studio. One was a rock kit that had a
24" kick; 13", 14", and 12" tom-toms; and a 6 1⁄2"
(deep) metal snare drum. The other was a
small jazz kit, consisting of a 12" kick; 10" and
14" tom-toms; and a 5" (deep) wood snare.
Guess what? Even for the hardest rock
music, the small kit sounded much bigger.
You tune the small drums down a bit, and
they just sing!
sound great on stage are different from
those that sound great in the studio. Stage
cymbals often have long decays and slow
attacks. This causes bleeding, especially
through the tom-tom mics, and correcting
the problem can be a headache. If you buy
cymbals for your studio, choose those that
have a very fast attack and a short decay.
Choose your heads wisely. Not all heads are
recording, my favorite drum sets are used
kits from the late 1960s and early 1970s. My
all-time favorite recording set is a late 1960s
Gretsch jazz drum set with a 12" kick drum, a
10" mounted tom-tom, and a 14" floor tom. For
a snare, I love old 5" wooden snare drums
(Gretsch, Ludwig, Slingerland, whatever).
The last one of these sets I bought cost me
$350, including all the mounting hardware
and snare drum. It wasn’t pretty, but boy, did
it sound great.
Because the snare drum is located so close to the other drums (especially
the hi-hats), a cardioid pattern mic is a must. The most common mic for a
snare drum is the trusty Shure SM57. The mic is generally placed between
the hi-hats and the small tom-tom about one or two inches from the snare
drum head (see Figure 2-15). Point the diaphragm directly at the head. You
might need to make some minor adjustments to eliminate any bleed from the
hi-hats. This position gives you a nice, punchy sound.
If you want a crisper tone, you can add a second mic under the drum. Place
this mic about an inch or two from the head with the diaphragm pointing at
the snares. Make minor adjustments to minimize any leakage from the hi-hats.
Book III
Chapter 2
Miking: Getting a
Great Source Sound
equal. Some sound great on stage, but others
are better suited for the studio. Because the
heads that come with a kit are (most likely)
not the ones that sound the best on a recording, invest some money in testing different
drumheads on your kit. I prefer either Remo
pinstripes (great for rock and R&B) or coated
ambassadors (great for jazz) on the top and
either clear or coated ambassadors (either
More expensive isn’t always better. For
284
Setting Up Your Mics: Some Suggestions
Figure 2-15:
The proper
placement
for a snare
drum mic.
If you have the available tracks, record each snare mic to a separate track
and blend the two later during mixdown. If you don’t have the available
tracks, blend them until you have the sound that you want. You can also try
reversing the phase of the bottom mic. (Some preamps have a phase switch
for each channel, or you can reverse the phase by choosing AudioSuite➪
Other➪Invert from the main menu.) Some people prefer the sound of the
bottom mic this way.
Tom-toms
Tom-toms sound best when you use a dynamic mic. For mounted toms (the
ones above the kick drum), you can use one or two mics. If you use one mic,
place it between the two drums about four to six inches away from the
heads. (Figure 2-16 shows this placement option.) If you use two mics, place
one above each drum about one to three inches above the head.
If you want a boomy sound with less attack, you can place a mic inside the
shell with the bottom head off the drum.
Floor toms are miked the same way as mounted tom-toms:
✦ Place a single mic a couple of inches away from the head near the rim.
✦ If you have more than one floor tom, you can place one mic between
them or mic them individually.
Setting Up Your Mics: Some Suggestions
285
Figure 2-16:
Miking
mounted
tom-toms
with one
mic.
Book III
Chapter 2
Hi-hats are generally part of the main groove — as such, they’re important
enough that you want to spend some time getting a good sound. You’ll
probably have problems with a few other mics on the drum set picking up
the hi-hats, particularly the snare drum mic and overhead mics. (Some
people don’t even bother miking the hi-hats for this reason.)
I like to mic hi-hats because, to me, these cymbals often sound too trashy
through the snare-drum mic. If you mic the hi-hats, make sure that the
snare-drum mic is picking up as little of the hi-hats as possible by placing
it properly.
You can use either a dynamic mic or, better yet, a small diaphragm condenser mic for the hi-hats. The dynamic mic gives you a trashier sound, and
the small diaphragm condenser mic produces a bright sound. You can work
with either by adjusting the EQ. I usually add just a little bit (4dB or so) of a
shelf equalizer set at 10 kHz to add just a little sheen to the hi-hats. Book VI,
Chapter 3 covers EQ in detail.
Place the mic about three to four inches above the hi-hats and point it down.
The exact placement of the mic is less important than the placement of the
other instrument mics because of the hi-hats’ tone. Just make sure your mic
isn’t so close that you hit it instead of the cymbal.
Miking: Getting a
Great Source Sound
Hi-hats
286
Setting Up Your Mics: Some Suggestions
Cymbals
You want to know one secret to the huge drum sound of the Led Zeppelin
drummer, John Bonham? Finesse. He understood (I’m guessing, because I
never really talked to him about this) that the drums sound louder and
bigger in a mix if the cymbals are quieter in comparison. So he played his
cymbals softly and hit the drums pretty hard. This allowed the engineer to
boost the levels of the drums without having the cymbals drown everything
else out. Absolutely brilliant.
Because the drums bleeding into the overhead mics is inevitable and the
overhead mics are responsible for providing much of the drums’ presence in
a mix, playing the cymbals softly allows you to get more of the drums in
these mics. This helps the drums sound bigger.
Ask (no, demand) that your drummer play the cymbals more quietly. Also
use smaller cymbals with a fast attack and a short decay. Doing these things
creates a better balance between the drums and cymbals and makes the
drums stand out more in comparison.
Small-diaphragm condenser mics capture the cymbals’ high frequencies
well. You can mic the cymbals by placing mics about six inches above each
cymbal or by using overhead mics set one to three feet above the cymbals.
(See the next section for more on overhead mic placement.)
The whole kit
Most of the time, you want to have at least one (but preferably two) ambient
mics on the drums, if for no other reason than to pick up the cymbals. These
(assuming you use two mics) are overhead mics, and (as the name implies)
you place them above the drum set (usually by means of a boom stand). The
most common types of mics to use for overheads are large- and smalldiaphragm condenser mics because they pick up the high frequencies in the
cymbals and give the drum set’s sound a nice sheen (brightness). You also
might want to try a pair of ribbon mics to pick up a nice, sweet sound on the
overheads.
Remember that ribbon mics can be fragile.
To mic the drum set with overhead mics, you can use either the X-Y coincident technique or spaced stereo pairs. Place them one to two feet above the
cymbals, just forward of the drummer’s head. Place X-Y mics in the center
and set up spaced stereo pairs so they follow the 3:1 rule. (The mics should
be set up three to six feet apart if they are one to two feet above the cymbals.) This counters any phase problems. Point the mic down toward the
drums, and you’re ready to record. Figure 2-17 shows both of these setups.
Setting Up Your Mics: Some Suggestions
X-Y mics 1-2 feet above cymbals
287
Spaced mics 1-2 feet above cymbals
and 3-6 feet apart
Figure 2-17:
Overhead
mics
capture the
cymbals
and the
drums.
Hand drums
Hand drums can be anything from the familiar conga to unusual drums such
as the North African tar, Middle Eastern doumbek, or Brazilian Pandeiro.
Because you might encounter many types of hand drums, this section gives
you some general guidelines when recording any hand drum.
If you want to record any number of the smaller, higher-pitched hand drums,
use either a large or small diaphragm condenser mic and skip the dynamic
mic altogether.
Mic placement also varies considerably among the various hand drums. Listen
to the sound of the drum and find a place where you like what you hear. For
the most part, placing the mic anywhere from one to three feet from the
drum creates the fullest sound. If you want a lot of attack, you can place the
mic closer. You lose some of the drum’s depth, however, when you place
the mic closer than one foot.
Percussion
Miscellaneous percussion instruments, such as shakers and triangles, are
nice additions to many styles of music. These instruments sound best with a
good condenser mic. I choose a large or small diaphragm mic, depending on
the characteristics that I want to pick up. For instance, a shaker can sound
great with a large diaphragm mic because this mic brings out the lower
frequencies of the instrument slightly and softens the overall sound a bit.
Book III
Chapter 2
Miking: Getting a
Great Source Sound
Your selection in mics depends on the type of drum and its tonal characteristics. For example, conga drums occupy the middle of the frequency spectrum and produce a loud sound that a large diaphragm condenser mic can
capture well. Or if you want a tighter, drier sound, you can use a dynamic
mic. If you choose the dynamic mic, the mic colors the sound of your
recording.
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Setting Up Your Mics: Some Suggestions
The room and the percussion
Most of the time, the room doesn’t have a huge effect on percussion instruments because you mic them closely. If your room does get in the way, use
the acoustic panels in much the same way that I suggest for vocals earlier in
this chapter (partially surround the mic and musician with baffles).
The mics and the percussion
Both large and small diaphragm mics work well for percussion. The main
thing to remember when recording percussion instruments is that they can
have a high SPL (Sound Pressure Level, or just plain volume), so you might
need to pad the mic.
As far as mic placement goes, I like to put a single mic anywhere from 6 to 18
inches away, depending on the size of the instrument. For example, because
maracas are loud, I put the mic back a bit (18 inches), whereas with a
triangle, I find that 6 to 8 inches sounds best.
Chapter 3: Preparing to Record
In This Chapter
Understanding record modes
Allocating disk space
Setting levels
Monitoring track inputs
Creating click tracks
A
fter you get your mics set up — see Chapter 2 of this mini-book for
more on that — and before you actually start to record, you can still
do a few things to make the process easier and to optimize the performance
of your system. This chapter covers all you need to do before you actually
start to record. For starters, this includes understanding and using Record
modes and dealing with disk allocation.
This chapter also shows you how to enable your tracks to record, set your
levels to give you the best sound possible, and manage your monitoring
setup to perform at your best. To top it off, this chapter guides you through
setting up a click track, song tempo, and meter map so when it comes time
to edit your audio (not that your performances need editing), you’ll be able
to do it quicker and with less effort. If you’re not sure what click tracks, tempo
maps, and meter maps are, don’t worry. By the time you finish this chapter,
you’ll be throwing these terms around like a seasoned sound engineer.
Recognizing Record Modes
Pro Tools offers the following four Record modes: Non-Destructive, Destructive,
Loop, and QuickPunch. You can choose the mode you want by selecting the
mode from the Options section of the main menu (choose Options➪Quick
Punch) or by Control-clicking (Mac) or right-clicking (PC) the Record button
in the Transport window. All this clicking cycles you through the four
Record modes.
Each Record mode has its place, and knowing which one to use for a given
situation can help you greatly in the efficiency department. These different
modes are detailed in the following sections.
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Recognizing Record Modes
You can see which mode you’re in by looking at the Record button in the
Transport window. The modes are designated, as shown in Figure 3-1.
Non-Destructive
Figure 3-1:
Record
mode icons
on the
Record
button.
Destructive
Loop
QuickPunch
Non-Destructive Record mode
Non-destructive recording is the default setting in Pro Tools. Whenever you
record in this mode, a new audio file is created without erasing any previous
files or regions. This new file automatically gets added to the Audio Regions
list, where it resides with other recorded files. (This list is located on the right
side of the Edit window. If it’s not visible, click the double arrow at the bottom
right of the Edit window.)
Destructive Record mode
Recording in Destructive Record mode erases any and all previously recorded
audio regions found on that particular track, which basically mirrors the way
traditional analog tape recorders work. This can be handy for keeping your
hard drives from becoming full quickly, but you don’t get a chance to use a
previous take after you recorded over it. Because Non-Destructive Record
mode is the default mode (see the preceding section), you need to select
Destructive Record mode from either the Options menu (choose Options➪
Destructive from the main menu) or Control-click (Mac) or right-click (PC) the
Record button in the Transport window until the D icon appears on the Record
button, as shown in Figure 3-1.
Loop Record mode
Loop recording consists of choosing a start and end point on a track and
having this section play over and over again while you record and rerecord.
Each time the loop runs, it creates a new audio region. That way, you can
record a difficult section of a song as many times as you want and still have
all the takes available for review later on. To enable Loop Record mode,
chose Options➪Loop Record or Control-click (Mac) or right-click (PC) the
Record button in the Transport window until the Loop Record icon appears
in the record button. (Refer to Figure 3-1.)
Recognizing Record Modes
291
To create a loop to record to, follow these steps:
1. Enter the start point for your loop in the Start field of the Transport
window.
The Transport window runs along the top of the Edit window. Its (many)
features are discussed in detail in Book II, Chapter 4.
2. Enter the end point for your loop in the End field in the Transport
window.
3. (Optional) If you want a pre-roll, enter an amount of time for it to run,
using the Pre-Roll field of the Transport window.
A pre-roll, by the way, is a section of your song before where you actually
start recording that plays when you hit the Record button. A pre-roll
happens only before the first time through the loop. After that, the loop
runs the same way each time through: from start point to end point and
then back to the start point.
To find out how to review a bunch of audio regions you recorded using loops,
check out the section on auditioning takes in Chapter 4 of this mini-book.
QuickPunch Record mode
Using QuickPunch also ensures that you can constantly hear the audio while
the punch in and punch out happen, seamlessly switching between monitoring
the already-recorded track and monitoring the input source for the track
being punched.
By default, Pro Tools switches automatically from the recorded material to
the fresh input when the punch is enabled, and then back again when the
punch is disabled. If you don’t want this feature and prefer hearing your
input source before and after the punch (as well as during the punch), choose
Track➪Input Only Monitoring from the main menu. (This is detailed in the
“Monitoring Your Tracks” section, later in this chapter.)
Book III
Chapter 3
Preparing to Record
QuickPunch Record mode is great for manually adding a corrected musical
phrase on the fly — punching in (starting to record) and punching out (stopping
the recording process) onto record-enabled tracks while the song plays. Of
course, you can punch in and out in Destructive and Non-Destructive modes
(by selecting start and end points), but QuickPunch is designed for use on the
fly: You can punch in and out up to 100 times during each pass of the song. To
select QuickPunch Record mode, choose it from the Options menu (choose
Options➪QuickPunch from the main menu) or Control-click (Mac) or right-click
(PC) the Record button in the Transport window until the QuickPunch icon (a
little P, refer to Figure 3-1) appears on the Record button.
292
Dealing with Disk Allocation
Dealing with Disk Allocation
Recording and playing back audio tracks is a hard drive-intensive process. To
make this process as smooth as possible, set up your hard drive for the best
possible (optimized) disk allocation to specify where your tracks get stored.
Basically, optimizing in this context means to limit how much hard drive
space is used for recording audio or to record to more than one hard drive. I
cover both options in the following sections.
Allocating hard drive space
How fast you can write to or read from a hard drive depends on where the
data is on the disk; if it’s all over the place, the hard drive has to hunt for it,
which means the data takes longer to read. To minimize any jumping around
the hard drive has to do to find the data, you can tell Pro Tools to put your
recorded audio on only a limited portion of the disk. This process — disk
allocation — speeds up access time. (You’ll find that certain types of hard-drive
formats, such as HFS+, and NTFS, are especially prone to slow-pokiness and can
benefit from this “marking off” of available disk space.)
To allocate your hard drive space, follow these steps:
1. Choose Setup➪Preferences from the main menu.
The Preferences dialog box duly appears.
2. Click the Operation tab at the top of the Preferences dialog box.
The Preferences dialog box puts on its Operation face.
3. In the Open Ended Record Allocation section, choose the Limit To
radio button.
4. In the Limit To text field, type in a time slightly longer than the
longest song you usually record.
This limits the maximum file size so that Pro Tools places it within certain boundaries on the hard drive, thus reducing the real estate that
must be traveled for each file.
If you expect that you might end up with a really long song, select the Use All
Available Space radio button, or choose a really high number (say, 60 minutes)
for your limit. That way, your recording won’t stop before you want it to.
Using multiple hard drives for audio
One way to increase your ability to record and play back more tracks is to
have more than one hard drive dedicated to audio. Yup, this means having
three hard drives in your computer: one for the system files and applications,
and two for audio.
Enabling Recording
293
To allocate a specific hard drive on which to record a track, choose Setup➪
Disk Allocation from the main menu to open the Disk Allocation dialog box
(as shown in Figure 3-2). From this dialog box, you can manually choose the
hard drive that each audio track is recorded to by clicking and holding the
track name (a drop-down menu opens) and selecting one of the drives from
the list. All the drives in your computer will show up in this list. Or, you can
select the Use Round Robin Allocation for New Tracks check box, in which
case, Pro Tools distributes the tracks serially to more than one hard drive. All
your files are placed in a folder created for the session by Pro Tools.
To designate a different folder to record your tracks to, check the Custom
Allocation Options check box and then click the Change button. Select the
folder from the dialog box that appears.
Figure 3-2:
The Disk
Allocation
dialog box
lets you
choose
where your
audio files
record to.
Book III
Chapter 3
Enabling Recording
When you enable recording for a track, you’re ready to go. But before you
click that ol’ Record Enable button, check out what I have to say about the
ins and outs of enabling recording, using Latch mode, and running Record
Safe mode. Doing so might help you avoid some common pitfalls.
Record-enabling
Enabling a track for recording (the audio buzzwords are record-enabling) is
easy: Just click the Record Enable button for that track in the Edit or the Mix
Preparing to Record
If you want to record audio to the system drive, bear in mind that audio
takes up a big honkin’ lot of space, which could compromise system
performance. Choose the system drive to record only if you have no other
options: Say, you have only one hard drive in your system, or all your other
drives are full.
294
Enabling Recording
window (see Figure 3-3). The track will stay in Record mode until you either
click another track’s Record Enable button or you toggle out of Record mode
(by clicking the track’s Record Enable button one more time).
Figure 3-3:
The Record
Enable
button in the
Mix window
(left) and the
Edit window
(right) arms
the track for
recording.
Record Enable button
Record Enable button
You can keep a track in Record mode when you move on and enable other
tracks. To do so, just engage the Latch mode (see the next section) or hold
down the Shift key while you select your other track(s).
Aside from simply clicking the Record Enable button, you are free to use
keyboard shortcuts to enable all tracks or selected tracks. These are done
the following ways:
✦ To record-enable all tracks: Option-click (Mac) or Alt-click (PC) the
Record Enable button of any track.
✦ To record-enable selected tracks: Shift-click each track to select multiple tracks and then Shift+Option-click (Mac) or Shift+Alt-click (PC) the
Record Enable button on one of the selected tracks. You can select
grouped tracks to enable by highlighting the group in the Edit Groups
list (located in the lower left of the Edit window) and then Shift+Optionclicking (Mac) or Shift+Alt-clicking (PC) a Record Enable button on one
of the tracks in the group.
This step is a timesaver only if you already have some tracks selected
and you want to record-enable them. If your tracks aren’t already selected,
Shift-clicking the Record Enable button on each track is much faster.
After you have one or more tracks enabled for recording, you can click
Record and then Play to start recording. (Chapter 4 of this mini-book has
more on the intricacies of recording.)
Enabling Recording
295
Using Latch Record Enable mode
With Pro Tools, you have the option of latching — or unlatching — your
Record Enable buttons. In Latch Record Enable mode, you basically “lock”
down record-enabling so that when you enable recording on one track and
then move to enable recording on another track, the first track stays in Record
Enable mode. This allows you to consecutively enable more than one track.
With Latch Record Enable mode off, when you enable one track and then go
to enable another track, the first track turns off and is no longer recordenabled.
Now that that’s straight, here’s how you actually turn Latch Record Enable
mode on and off:
1. Choose Setup➪Preferences from the main menu.
2. From the Preferences dialog box that appears, click the Operation tab.
The Operation view of the Preferences dialog box appears.
3. Select the Latch Record Enable Buttons check box to turn it on.
This check box is located in the upper right of the window, as shown in
Figure 3-4.
Book III
Chapter 3
Preparing to Record
Figure 3-4:
Select the
Latch
Record
Enable
Buttons
check box
to choose
more than
one track to
recordenable.
296
Setting Levels
Running Record Safe mode
Record Safe mode does for your tracks what Write Protect features do for a
floppy disk or a Zip disk: namely, make it impossible for you to record-enable
a track. This is a truly helpful feature that has saved me from accidentally
recording over an already great track. To put a track into Record Safe mode,
Ô-click (Mac) or Ctrl-click (PC) the track’s Record Enable button. (Remember:
You can find the Record Enable button in the Edit window or the Mix window;
refer to Figure 3-3.) If you clicked correctly, the Record Enable button will gray
out, as shown in Figure 3-5. To reverse this procedure, Ô-click (Mac) or Ctrlclick (PC) the button again.
Figure 3-5:
Using
Record Safe
mode
disables the
Record
Enable
button.
If you want, you can put more than one track at a time in Record Safe mode.
Here’s how:
✦ Placing selected tracks in Record Safe mode: Ô+Option+Shift-click
(Mac) or Ctrl+Alt+Shift-click (PC) the Record Enable button for one of
the selected tracks. This step assumes that you have tracks already
selected; Shift-click the track names in the Edit or the Mix window to
select them. If the tracks aren’t already selected, Ô-clicking (Mac) or
Ctrl-clicking (PC) the track’s Record Enable button for each track is
much quicker.
✦ Placing all tracks in Record Safe mode: Ô+Option-click (Mac) or
Ctrl+Alt-click (PC) the Record Enable button on any track.
To toggle either selection off, just repeat whatever click combination you
used to get the multiple tracks selected in the first place.
Setting Levels
One of the most important parts of getting good recordings is to get your
recording levels just right. Too low, and your instrument sounds thin or
weak; too much level and you risk clipping (distorting) the signal.
Setting Levels
297
In order to get a signal into Pro Tools, you need to
✦ Record-enable a track.
✦ Have the Input selector set to the hardware input your instrument or
microphone is plugged in to.
Book II, Chapter 3 has more on inputs in general and Input selectors in
particular.
After you do this, you can set the recording level in Pro Tools by
✦ Using the preamp trim knob in your Digidesign interface: The 003, 003
Rack, 002, and 002 Rack have four preamps, and Mboxes have two preamps.
You can plug your microphone or your electric guitar or bass directly into
the input and adjust the trim knob until you get a good signal showing in
the track’s level meter. (Good here means peaks that don’t rise above the
yellow. See the “What’s a good level to record at?” sidebar.)
Condenser mics need phantom power to function. You can turn on phantom
power to the channels with preamps by engaging the switch on the back
panel of the interface.
For microphones, this involves using an external preamp and plugging
your mic into the preamp and the preamp into your Digidesign interface.
For an electric guitar or bass, you need a direct box (or a preamp with a
direct box connection). You place this device between your guitar’s
output and the Digidesign input. Make adjustments to your signal level
at this device, using the device’s gain control.
The Volume fader for the track has no control over the Input level. It controls
only the playback and monitoring level. If you want to adjust the Input level,
you need to make the adjustments on your interface or preamp. (Check your
owner’s manual if you’re not sure how to do this.)
Adjust the level of your input until you get a reading of the highest notes
somewhere in the middle of the yellow range in the track’s level meter.
Book III
Chapter 3
Preparing to Record
✦ Using the Line In inputs in your interface and adjusting the output
level of your instrument via the instrument’s volume control: If you
use Line In inputs, your instrument needs to be at line level. This means
that you can plug your synthesizer directly into these inputs. However, if
you want to use a microphone or an electric guitar or bass, you need to
boost the signal beforehand.
298
Setting a Record Range
What’s a good level to record at?
Professional recording engineers debate as to
what’s the best level to record at in a digital
recorder (such as Pro Tools). Some say you
should get as high of a level as possible to take
full advantage of the dynamic range that digital
recording offers. Others say that it’s better to
record a little lower so you don’t overload the
summing bus of the software when it comes
time to mix. According to this theory, doing so
prevents unintentional clipping (distortion, in
other words) from extreme transients (the initial attack of the instrument) when recording.
So, which way should you go?
Well, because I record a lot of instruments with
fast, extreme transients (such as drums), I fall
into the “record lower to be safe” category.
Typically I go for a level around –12 decibels
(dB), with peaks no higher than –6dB. (If you
follow my lead here, your level meter should
read in the low- to middle-yellow range.) This
gives me a good signal that has plenty of
dynamic range but still leaves some headroom
(room for more signal before clipping) to work
with. It also minimizes any possibility of
extreme transients ruining the take.
I’m going to recommend, then, that you keep
your maximum levels squarely in the low to
middle of the yellow range in the track’s level
meter, regardless of the type of instrument you
want to record. If you follow my advice, you’ll
definitely thank me when you start to mix all
your tracks together. (Check out Book VI for
more on mixing.)
Setting a Record Range
When you record in Pro Tools, you can start and stop your session while you
record, or you can set a recording range so the Pro Tools starts and stops
the recording process for you. This can be useful if you have your hands full
with instruments and you don’t want to take the chance that you’ll miss your
desired start or stop point by doing it by hand.
You can set the recording range by using one of these methods:
✦ Type a start and end time into the Start and End fields of the
Transport window. For a detailed look at the Transport window, check
out Book II, Chapter 4.
✦ Select a range in the ruler or in a track’s playlist.
• The ruler method: Simply adjust the two blue arrows along the timeline
until you have the Beginning arrow and the End arrow where you want
them.
• The track playlist method: This is when you set beginning and end
times by dragging across the record range with the Selector tool.
Monitoring Your Tracks
299
Note: You must have the Link Edit and Timeline Selections turned on.
This is done either by choosing Options➪Link Edit and Timeline Selections
from the main menu or by clicking the Link button in the Edit window. (The
Link button, as shown here in the margin, is on the long, black toolbar right
above the timeline in the Edit window. Book II, Chapter 4 tells you more
about it.) To turn Link Edit and Timeline Selections off again, click the Link
button again or choose Link Edit and Timeline Selections from the Options
menu.
Of course, if you don’t want to preset the recording range — letting the clips
fall where they may, as it were — don’t select either of these options and just
let the playing start wherever it is and run to the end.
You can also set a pre-roll and post-roll time in the Transport window. You
use pre-roll and post-roll settings to designate an amount of time for the song
to play before (pre-roll) or after (post-roll) the actual recording happens. This
can help you get into the groove of the song before you need to start worrying
about how well you’re playing.
Monitoring Your Tracks
Setting up monitoring
To set up your monitoring, you first need to choose the output of the tracks
you want to monitor so they match the main outputs on your system. Do
this by selecting the outputs in each track’s Output selector, located above
the Pan control in the Mix window. (Book II, Chapter 4 has more than you’d
ever need to know about Output selectors and Mix windows.)
Choosing a monitor mode
Pro Tools has two monitor modes: Auto Input monitoring and Input Only
Monitoring. (More on what these terms actually mean in a minute.) You can
select between these two options by checking or unchecking Track➪Input
Only Monitoring from the main menu. (See Figure 3-6.)
Book III
Chapter 3
Preparing to Record
To record effectively, you need to hear what you’re doing. This is monitoring.
Managing your input monitoring in Pro Tools involves setting up your monitor
configuration and output and balancing between lowest latency (the delay
between input and output of the sound) and system performance. These
areas are detailed in this section.
300
Monitoring Your Tracks
Figure 3-6:
You can
choose to
monitor
input only
from the
Track menu.
Auto Input Monitoring mode
In Auto Input Monitoring mode, you hear your previously recorded audio (if
any exists) on a record-enabled track right up until the point you start to record.
After recording has begun, you hear the input source while it’s being recorded.
After the recording is done, Pro Tools switches you back to hearing the previously recorded stuff. This is useful for doing punch recording, where you start
and stop recording while the session plays. This is the default setup for Pro
Tools and is active when you don’t have Input Only Monitoring checked in the
Track menu.
Input Only Monitoring mode
In Input Only Monitoring mode, you hear only the input source through your
monitors, regardless of whether other stuff is recorded on that track. When
this mode is enabled, the Record button in the Transport window is green.
When this mode is not enabled, the Record button is red. To enable this,
choose Track➪Input Only Monitoring.
Linking and unlinking Record and Playback faders
You have the option of “linking” the fader on your tracks when in Record
Enable or Playback mode (meaning that moving the fader in one mode moves
it the same distance in the other mode) or “unlinking” them (so you can
maintain separate fader levels in each mode). If you opt for the unlinking
option, Pro Tools remembers where your fader was set in both Record Enable
mode and Playback mode and returns the fader to its position when you
switch between these modes.
Unlinking your Record and Playback faders allows you to set the level differently
for playback and record. This can be useful for punch recording because you
can adjust both the recorded stuff and your input source independently and
have the same relative levels between your previously recorded track and
the input in the mix. Otherwise, your input source might be too loud or too
soft in comparison.
Monitoring Your Tracks
301
To link Record and Playback faders, follow these steps:
1. Choose Setup➪Preferences from the main menu.
2. Click the Operation tab at the top of the Preferences dialog box that
opens.
The Preferences dialog box presents you with its Operation face.
3. Select or clear the Link Record and Play Faders check box located in
the column on the right, as shown in Figure 3-7, depending which way
you want to work.
4. Click OK.
Book III
Chapter 3
Preparing to Record
Figure 3-7:
The Link
Record and
Play Fader
check box.
Adjusting monitoring latency
All digital systems have some latency — delay between the input of the audio
and its output. Latency used to be a big deal in computer-based systems
because to record more than a couple of tracks at once, you had to set your
system — usually by using a high H/W (hardware) buffer size — resulting in
painfully noticeable latency. This lag made it hard for many musicians to
record because they heard a distracting delay in their headphones while
they recorded.
302
Monitoring Your Tracks
Nowadays, latency isn’t such a big deal because computers are often powerful
enough to be able to handle a lower buffer size while recording. You can lower
the buffer size in the Playback Engine dialog box, as shown in Figure 3-8. (To
access the Playback Engine dialog box, just choose Setup➪Playback Engine
from the main menu.) Depending on your Digidesign interface, you have the
choice between 64, 128, 256, 512, and 1024 samples. The lower the number, the
lower the latency.
For most recordings, you can get by with either 256-sample or 128-sample
settings. When recording at 44.1 kHz, this represents only about a 3- and a
6-millisecond (ms) delay, respectively. This is equivalent to standing three or
six feet away from your instrument/amp/speaker. When mixing lots of tracks
with a bunch of plug-ins, you want to adjust this to a higher setting — such
as 512 or even 1024 — depending on the speed of your processor.
Figure 3-8:
Use H/W
Buffer Size
settings to
control the
latency your
system
produces.
Using low-latency monitoring
If you want the least amount of latency possible and you don’t mind not
hearing reverb or other effects through your headphones, go for the lowlatency monitoring option: Just choose Options➪Low Latency Monitoring
from the main menu. (See Figure 3-9.)
Creating a Click Track
303
Figure 3-9:
The Low
Latency
Monitoring
option is
located on
the Options
menu.
Low-latency monitoring bypasses the internal mixer in Pro Tools and sends
the input’s sound back out without processing it. This reduces latency, but it
also limits what you can do. Here are some of the “strings attached” that
come with low-latency monitoring:
✦ None of the plug-ins that you have routed to tracks 1 and 2 can be
heard in this mode.
✦ Tracks set to record from an internal bus (a submix, for example)
can’t be monitored this way. You can use this mode only for tracks that
use a hardware input.
✦ Tracks that you’re recording to won’t show up in the levels at the
Master Fader channel.
Creating a Click Track
A click track is basically a metronome that you can listen to while recording
to ensure that you stay in time with the session. Recording to a click track
can have many advantages, including being able to match the song’s sections
to particular bars or beats within the session. It also makes finding edit points
and performing certain edits much easier. I always spend a few minutes setting
up a click track for my songs, and I recommend that you give it try, too.
Book III
Chapter 3
Preparing to Record
✦ Low-latency monitoring applies only to outputs 1 and 2 on your hardware. Any tracks set to another output can’t be monitored this way, so
you must choose outputs 1 and 2 as your outputs for the track you want
to monitor.
304
Creating a Click Track
There are two ways to create a click track in Pro Tools: the easy way, and the
potentially better-sounding way (assuming you have an external device that
creates a nice sound, such as a drum machine). I cover both in case you
can’t stand the sound of the Click plug-in that’s created in the easy way.
Getting a click track the easy way
Starting with Pro Tools version 7.3, you can create a click track in your session in just one step: Choose Track➪Create Click Track. This places a track
in your session with the click plug-in already inserted. Check out Figure 3-10.
The only other thing you may need to do to get this click going is to assign
an output to this track if you haven’t set your default output setting in the
I/O Setup dialog box (Book III, Chapter 2 covers this). To assign your output,
click and hold the Output selector for click track and drag to the physical
output you want for your click. This is usually the main outputs for your session.
From here, you can follow the steps in the “Setting the tempo,” “Choosing
the meter,” and “Enabling a click track” sections later in this chapter.
Figure 3-10:
Choosing
Track➪
Create Click
Track
creates a
track with
the click
inserted.
Getting a click track the hard way
If you have an external drum machine or synthesizer, you may want to perform
a few extra steps so that the click you hear is something you want to hear
(the click plug-in that comes with Pro Tools is hard for many people to tolerate). This involves several steps that are outlined in the following sections.
Configuring your external device
To play a click track using an external device in Pro Tools, you need a designate a device for creating the sound. This can be an external MIDI sound
module (such as a drum machine or synthesizer).
Creating a Click Track
305
To configure the click-track device, follow these steps:
1. If you’re using an external MIDI device for your click, connect the
device to a MIDI port connected to your computer.
Some Digidesign and M-Audio interfaces come with MIDI ports, but others
don’t. If your interface has MIDI ports, you’re good to go. If it doesn’t,
however, you have to get a separate MIDI interface. (Book I, Chapter 4 can
get you up to speed on this.) As well, if you use the Click plug-in, you don’t
need to use your MIDI ports.
2. Double-click the Click button in the Transport window.
3. In the Click/Countoff Options dialog box that appears (see Figure 3-11),
open the Output drop-down menu to choose the device that will play
your click.
Be sure to choose the port and MIDI channel that your device is
connected to.
Book III
Chapter 3
Preparing to Record
Figure 3-11:
Use the
Click/Count
off Options
dialog box
to configure
your click
track
device.
4. Select when you want the click to be played by selecting one of the
radio buttons at the top of the window.
You can select among During Play and Record, Only During Record, and
Only During Countoff.
5. Using the appropriate fields, enter the MIDI note, velocity, and duration for the accented and unaccented notes of the click.
6. (Optional) Select whether you want a countoff only during record and
then enter the number of bars you want in the Bars field.
Selecting the Only During Record check box means that there will be no
countoff when you play back the track. If you don’t want any countoff at
all, type in 0 in the Bars field.
306
Creating a Click Track
Even with your device configured, you still won’t get any sound out of your
click track until you enable it in your session. The next section shows you
how to do this.
Connecting an external device to sound a click
Follow these steps to connect your external MIDI device to sound the click:
1. Connect the audio output of your external MIDI device to an audio
input of your Digidesign hardware.
2. Create a new mono audio track by choosing Track➪New from the
main menu or by pressing Ô+Shift+N (Mac) or Ctrl+Shift+N (PC).
3. When the New Track dialog box opens, use the drop-down menus to
choose a single mono Audio track and then click Create.
Your track appears in the Edit and Mix windows and in the Audio
Regions list located at the right side of the Edit window.
Why mono? Well, it’s annoying to hear the clicking in only one ear. Mono
puts it in both ears, nice and clear.
4. Using the Input selector for your new track in the Edit or the Mix windows, select the input that corresponds to the input your device is
connected to.
5. Set the output to the main stereo outputs of your session, using the
Output selector for your new track in the Edit or the Mix windows.
6. Record-enable the track by clicking the Record Enable button in the
Edit or the Mix windows.
Your click track plays according to your choice in the Click/Countoff
dialog box.
Setting the tempo
Whether you created your click track the hard or easy way, you still need to
set your session tempo to get the click to pulse at the tempo you want to
play to. Here’s how you do this:
1. Disengage the Tempo Ruler Enable button in the expanded Transport
window (choose View➪Transport➪Expanded).
The little Conductor guy turns grey. If it’s already grey, then leave it
alone.
2. Double-click in the tempo box in the expanded section of the
Transport window (as shown in Figure 3-12).
3. Type the tempo number you want and click Return/Enter.
Your tempo is set.
Creating a Click Track
307
Another way to change the tempo is to follow Step 1, and then click and drag
the slider located below the tempo setting left or right to get to the tempo
you want. Release your mouse when you set the tempo.
Figure 3-12:
Use the
Expanded
Transport
Window to
choose the
tempo of
your
session.
Choosing the meter
You also need to set the meter for the session. You do this using the
Meter Change dialog box. You call up the dialog box by double-clicking
the Meter button in the expanded Transport window (or choose View➪
Rulers➪Meter then click on the plus (+) sign next to the meter ruler bar).
The Meter Change the dialog box appears, as shown in Figure 3-13. The
Meter Change dialog box gives you the following parameters to adjust:
✦ Location: The number you enter in this field determines the beginning of
the meter (time signature) event. For songs with only one time signature,
you enter 1/1/000 (bars/beats/ticks).
✦ Meter: In these fields, type the meter that you want to use (4 in the top
field and 4 in the bottom field for common time, for example).
✦ Click: From this menu, you choose the note value for the clicks played in
each measure. Choosing 1/4 note (a quarter note) gives you four clicks
in a 4/4 measure.
Figure 3-13:
Use Meter
Change
view to
designate
the meter in
your
session.
Preparing to Record
✦ Snap to Bar: Select this check box to align any meter events with the
first beat in the nearest bar.
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Creating a Click Track
Enabling a click track
Even an electronic equivalent of a metronome has to be set in motion to do
any good. After you set up your click track to do its job, you have to enable
it so it will run while you’re recording.
You can enable your click track by
✦ Choosing Options➪Click from the main menu
✦ Clicking the Click button in the MIDI section of the Transport window
When Click is engaged, this button is blue.
You can engage the countoff by clicking the Countoff button in the MIDI
section of the Transport window. This button displays the number of
bars that the countoff is set for, and shows as blue when it’s engaged.
Setting up tempo and meter events
If your song has any tempo or meter changes, you can set up a map of these
changes (events). You might want to do this if you have complex songs with
several different time signatures or tempos. This makes sure that your click
track follows these changes so that you can stay in time, too. This section
shows you how.
Creating new tempo or meter events
Tempo and meter events are changes to your tempo or meter throughout the
song. You can make changes to the tempo or meter anywhere within the song,
and the placement of these events throughout the session constitutes the
tempo and meter maps. The easiest way to create new tempo or meter events
is to type in the location of the change of tempo or meter in the Location field
within the Tempo or Meter Change dialog boxes. You can also select your
locations by doing the following:
1. Click the Tempo or Meter ruler bar in the Edit window where you
want your tempo or meter change to happen.
Book II, Chapter 4 gives you all the details on both the Tempo and Meter
ruler bars.
2. Open the Tempo or Meter Change dialog box by clicking the appropriate plus sign to the right of the label Tempo or Meter.
3. (Optional) In the Tempo or Meter Change dialog box, select the Snap
to Bar check box if you want the tempo or meter event to start at the
beginning of the nearest bar.
4. Type in the tempo or meter you want to use for that section.
Creating a Click Track
309
5. Click OK.
A triangle icon (green for tempo and yellow for meter) appears at the
location of this tempo or meter change.
You can use these steps to create more changes in tempo or meter (events)
anywhere within the session. When you create these events, Pro Tools
creates a map of them within your session with the little icons.
Editing tempo and meter events
When your tempo or meter events are in place, you can move, delete, copy,
or paste them. The following list tells you how:
✦ Moving a tempo or meter event: You can move the location of tempo or
meter events easily by dragging the corresponding triangle along the ruler
to where you want it. Alternatively, you can double-click the triangle to
open the Tempo/Meter Change dialog box, where you can use the
Location field to set a specific location.
✦ Deleting an event: To delete an event, Option-click (Mac) or Alt-click
(PC) over the triangle of the event you want to remove.
✦ Copying an event: To copy a tempo or meter event, follow these steps:
a. Set the Edit mode to Grid and the grid resolution to 1 bar.
b. Press Ô (Mac) or Ctrl (PC) and click and drag from the beginning to the
end of the event you want to copy.
You can select more than one contiguous event by continuing to
drag across the events you want to select.
c. Choose Edit➪Copy from the main menu or press Ô+C (Mac) or Ctrl+C
(PC) to copy the events.
✦ Pasting an event: To paste an event that you’ve already copied, follow
these steps:
a. Click the place in the ruler bar where you want to paste the event(s).
b. Choose Edit➪Paste from the main menu or press Ô+V (Mac) or
Ctrl+V (PC).
Preparing to Record
Doing so ensures that you select the beginning of a bar. (Book IV,
Chapter 1 details how to work with Edit modes and grid resolutions.)
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Book III: Recording Audio
Chapter 4: Recording Audio
In This Chapter
Recording a track
Recording multiple tracks
Playing back audio
Recording additional tracks
R
ecording audio is what Pro Tools does best. (Well, that and editing it.
See Book IV.) This chapter guides you through recording single and
multiple tracks from analog and digital sources as well as playing back all
that stuff. In this chapter, you also discover the home recordist’s best way
to create full-blown songs: overdubbing, or adding tracks to those you already
recorded. I guarantee that you’ll use overdubbing a lot, so I spend a fair
amount of time getting you up to speed on the best (and easiest) ways to
overdub in Pro Tools.
Recording Tracks
Recording audio tracks in Pro Tools requires that you first choose your Record
mode, create a track, set levels, enable recording, and turn on a click track (if
you’re using one). These steps are all covered in detail in the previous chapter
in this mini-book, but you’ll also find a basic overview of these topics in this
section.
After you have all these steps taken care of, you’re ready to record some audio.
The following sections lead you through recording a single track or multiple
tracks, undoing or canceling takes, recording additional takes, auditioning
takes, and using playlists to organize and choose which takes to listen to.
Recording a single track
Most home recordists tend to record a single track at a time. (After all, most
human beings can play only one instrument at a time.) Recording to a single
track — whether mono or stereo — requires the following basic steps.
(Steps 1–6 are explained in detail in Chapter 3 in this mini-book.)
1. Open a session or create a new session.
2. Create a new audio track by choosing Track➪New.
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Recording Tracks
3. Assign an input and output to your new track from the Input and
Output drop-down menus, found in the Controls section of the track.
4. Record-enable the track.
5. Set your recording level.
Be sure that your monitor speakers are turned off or all the way down if
you’re recording in the same room as your monitors because the microphone might create feedback (an obnoxious hum or squeal) if it’s too
close to your speakers. My advice: When recording, use headphones to
monitor your playing.
6. Enable the click track and pre-roll (if you’re using those features).
7. Click the Return to Zero button in the Basic Controls section of the
Transport window, as shown in Figure 4-1.
This ensures that you start recording at the beginning of the session.
Figure 4-1:
Use the
Basic
Controls to
record.
Return to Zero button
Play button
Record button
8. Click the Record button in the Basic Controls section of the Transport
window, as shown in Figure 4-1.
The Record button blinks red.
Clicking Record doesn’t actually start the recording process; it only gets
Pro Tools ready for recording.
To record by using keyboard shortcuts for Step 8, you can use any of the
following methods:
• Press Ô+spacebar (Mac) or Ctrl+spacebar (PC).
• Press the numberpad 3 key — that is, if you’ve set your system so your
Numeric Keyboard mode is linked to Transport. (Linking your numeric
keyboard to Transport is easy; just choose Setup➪Preferences from
the main menu to access the Preferences dialog box, click the Operation
tab, and then select the Transport radio button in the Numeric
Keypad section.)
Recording Tracks
313
9. Click the Play button in the Basic Controls section of the Transport
window (refer to Figure 4-1).
Only after you click Play does Pro Tools actually start recording; the
Record button glows a nice red while recording (not that you’ll be
watching it as you play).
10. When you’re done recording, click the Stop button in the Basic
Controls section of the Transport window or press the spacebar on
your keyboard.
This take appears in the Audio Regions list as a new region.
The Audio Regions list is on the right side of the Edit window. If this list
isn’t showing, click the double arrow at the bottom-right corner of the
Edit window.
Managing multiple tracks
Sometimes, you want to record more than one track at a time — say, when you
stereo-mic an instrument, when you record drums using several mics, or even
when you want to record a few musicians at a time. Recording multiple tracks
at one time follows much the same procedure as if you were recording a single
track: The only difference is that you use one of the following methods to
choose multiple tracks:
✦ Record-enable noncontiguous tracks. Press and hold the Shift key while
you click each track’s Record Enable button.
✦ Select all the tracks in your session. Option-click (Mac) or Alt-click (PC)
the Record Enable button on any track.
✦ Record-enable a selected track: Option+Shift-click (Mac) or Shift+Altclick (PC) the Record Enable button on the selected track.
Chapter 3 in this mini-book has more on these options.
Recording multiple tracks at once takes a toll on your system. A normal and
common symptom of this load is a delay between the time you click the Play
button and when the recording actually starts.
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Recording Audio
✦ Select the Latch Record Enable Buttons option in the Operation tab of
the Preferences dialog box, and then click each track’s Record Enable
button. To call up the Preferences dialog box, choose Setup➪Preferences
from the main menu.
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Recording Tracks
You can eliminate this delay by letting your system “warm up” first. This is
done by following these steps:
1. Click the Record button.
2. Press and hold Option (Mac) or Alt (PC) while you click the Play
button.
The Record and Play buttons flash.
3. Click the Play button when you’re ready to record.
Pro Tools starts recording immediately, with no delay.
4. When you’re done recording, click the Stop button.
Using pre- and post-rolls
A pre-roll or post-roll is a designated amount of time that the session plays
before or after, respectively, the recording starts or stops. I’m a big fan of
pre- and post- rolls (well, at least pre-rolls). For example, setting a pre-roll for
two or three bars lets me get into the groove of a song before the recording
actually starts. You can set pre- and post-rolls several ways, as the following
sections make abundantly clear.
Using the Pre-Roll and Post-Roll fields in the Transport window
To set the pre- and post-roll values in the Transport window, do the following:
1. Choose View➪Transport➪Expanded from the main menu.
The Pre-Roll and Post-Roll fields appear beneath the basic transport
controls.
2. Click in the Pre-Roll Counter field in the Transport window and type
in the length you want, as shown in Figure 4-2.
This field displays in the same format as the main counter. In the case of
Figure 4-2, the format is bars and beats.
Figure 4-2:
Clicking the
Pre-Roll or
Post-Roll
field lets you
enter a
value for the
pre/post roll.
Recording Tracks
315
3. Press Return/Enter.
4. Click in the Post-Roll Counter field and type in your desired value.
This value, too, displays in the format selected for the main counter.
5. Press Return/Enter.
6. Click the Pre-Roll and/or Post-Roll button in the Transport window to
enable it.
The buttons are labeled Pre-roll and Post-roll and are to the left of the
counter fields used in Steps 2 and 4.
All enabled buttons are highlighted.
Using the Pre-Roll and Post-Roll flags in the ruler bar
of the Edit window
The Pre- and Post-Roll flags are located along the Timebase ruler in the Edit
window. The flags are colored gray when they are disabled and green when
they are enabled. Follow these steps to set the pre-roll and post-roll amounts
using the flags in the ruler bar:
1. Press Ô+K (Mac) or Ctrl+K (PC) or choose Options➪Pre/Post-Roll from
the main menu to enable Pre-Roll and Post-Roll flags on the ruler of
the Edit window.
2. If you want the flag to snap to the grid, click the Grid button in the
upper-left of the Edit window to select the Grid Edit mode. Otherwise,
use any other Edit mode.
3. Click and drag the Pre- and Post-Roll flags on the ruler to where you
want them.
If you want the same value for both the pre- and post-rolls, you can press
Option (Mac) or Alt (PC) while you drag one of the flags. The other flag follows
along while you move one.
Setting pre-rolls and post-rolls within a track’s playlist
Playlists are the regions contained in a track and are located in the middle of the
Edit window to the right of the track controls. Playlists most often display
the waveform for the audio in the regions but can be set to display other things,
Recording Audio
The flags turn green to alert you that the pre- and post-roll functions are
enabled.
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Playing Back Your Tracks
such as automation views. In addition to all the other neat things you can do
with a playlist, you can also enable and disable pre- and post-rolls. Just do the
following:
1. Choose Options➪Link Edit and Timeline Selection from the main menu.
2. Click the Selector tool and drag along your track where you want the
recording to start and stop.
This selects your record range.
3. Option-click (Mac) or Alt-click (PC) the track’s playlist where you want
to put the pre-roll.
This both turns on the pre-roll and sets its location, as shown in Figure 4-3.
Figure 4-3:
Setting the
pre-or postroll flag.
4. Option-click (Mac) or Alt-click (PC) the track’s playlist where you want
to put the post-roll.
This both turns on the post-roll and sets its location.
To turn off the pre-roll from within a track’s playlist, Option-click (Mac) or
Alt-click (PC) near the start point of the record range selected. To turn off
the post-roll, Option-click (Mac) or Alt-click (PC) near the end point of the
record range selected.
Playing Back Your Tracks
After you record a track, you’ll most likely want to listen to it to make sure
that it sounds how you want. Pro Tools offers you many ways to play back a
track. In the following sections, I guide you through a few of the many
options for playing back audio regions.
Playing recorded tracks
After you record a track and click the Stop button, you can hear the track by
turning off the Record Enable button (click it to make the light disappear, as
shown at left in Figure 4-4) and then clicking the Play button (shown at right
in Figure 4-4). You can adjust the volume by moving the channel’s fader up
and down.
Playing Back Your Tracks
317
Figure 4-4:
Disable
Record
Enable (left)
and then
click Play
(right) to
hear a track.
If you use the Auto Input Monitoring option from the Track menu, you don’t
need to disable the Record Enable button. All you have to do is return to the
beginning of the session (press the Return to Zero button in the Transport
window) and then click the Play button in Basic Controls section of the
Transport window. Pro Tools automatically switches to play back the recorded
track. When you click Record and then click Play to record another take, Pro
Tools switches your monitoring back to the input.
Before you play back a track, make sure that the fader is turned down most
of the way because too-high volume can ruin your ears or speakers. You can
slowly bring it up as the session plays to get the volume you want.
Setting scrolling options
Pro Tools lets you decide how you want the track material and Timebase
ruler data to move (scroll) in Edit window as a session is playing or recording.
You can choose between the following by choosing Options➪Scrolling, and
then choosing an option, as shown in Figure 4-5.
✦ No Scrolling: With this option selected, the Edit window remains where
it is as the session plays. You can still move through the session by sliding
the scroll bar at the bottom of the window while the session plays.
✦ After Playback: Enabling the After Playback option keeps the Edit
window static while the session plays and immediately takes you to the
current location of the song after the session stops.
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Recording Audio
If you have Link Edit and Timeline Selection selected under the Options
menu, you can play back your recorded track from anywhere in the session
by clicking the Timebase ruler where you want to start — using the Selector
tool in the Edit window — and then clicking Play. You can also use the Rewind
and Fast Forward buttons to move through the session, but this tip makes
getting around much faster and easier.
318
Playing Back Your Tracks
Figure 4-5:
You can set
the Edit
window to
scroll three
different
ways.
✦ Page: Page scrolling during playback keeps the cursor visible at all times
as the session plays. When the cursor moves from left to right, the
window moves right.
This is the option I generally choose because I can easily keep track of
where I am in the session at all times.
Listening to playback loops
If you want to hear a specific section of a session over and over — to find
unidentifiable sounds, for example — you can create a playback loop. You
set this up by choosing Options➪Loop Playback from the main menu, as
shown in Figure 4-6. Or, you can press Shift+Ô+L or Control-click the Play
button (Mac), or press Ctrl+Shift+L or right-click the Play button (PC).
Next, set the start and end point of the loop. You have several ways to designate the start and end points, including
✦ Using the Start and End fields in the Expanded section of the
Transport window: Click in the Start and End fields and type in the Start
and End points of your loop.
✦ Selecting a range in the track’s playlist or Timebase ruler (the timeline
near the top of the Edit window): Make sure that you have the Link Edit
and Timeline Selection option selected in the Options menu. Then, using
the Selector tool, choose the range you want to loop, either in a track or
along the Timebase ruler, by dragging the Selector from the Start to End
point.
Playing Back Your Tracks
319
Figure 4-6:
Use Loop
Playback of
the Options
menu to
create a
loop.
✦ Dragging the playback markers in the Timebase ruler (timeline): With
the Selector tool, click and drag the playback markers (also called Start
and End Point markers). These are the blue arrows — or red if you have
any tracks record-enabled — at the beginning and end points of your
loop. You can move the markers either together or individually.
✦ Using memory locators: Memory locators are user-assigned markers in
the song. (This option is covered in detail in Book IV, Chapter 3.)
Using the Scrub feature
The Scrub feature in Pro Tools — located in the Edit window — works just like
rocking the tape back and forth against the playback head of a reel-to-reel tape
machine. (A what?) Um, okay. If you don’t recall that bit of 20th-century technology, just trust me: Scrubbing was a way of listening to tiny snippets of a
recorded track by moving the tape only a little. You can listen to a track by
moving the cursor back and forth across the spot you want to hear. You can
hear it forward or backward (in case you want to check the secret backward
message . . . just kidding). This is useful when finding a specific note in the
track — the hit of a snare drum, for instance. One of the great things about the
Pro Tools Scrub feature (compared with other recording programs) is that you
can scrub at any speed by simply moving the cursor at different speeds.
Recording Audio
Click the Play button in the Basic Controls section of the Transport window
to listen to the loop.
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Doing Additional Takes
To scrub a track, follow these steps:
1. Click the Scrubber button from the top of the Edit window, as shown
in Figure 4-7.
The Scrubber button looks like a mini-speaker emitting sound.
2. Click and drag over the waveform in a track to hear it played.
You can scrub two adjacent tracks at once by dragging the Scrubber at the
boundary between the two tracks.
Figure 4-7:
Use the
Scrubber
tool to listen
to a specific
point in a
track.
Scrubber
Doing Additional Takes
Chances are that your first attempt at recording a track wasn’t as good as you’d
like. No problem. You can just do another take. This process is the same as
recording your first one, but Pro Tools offers some options that can make it easy
and fun to get the “perfect” performance. These include loop recording, punching in and out, and sometimes (if you’re really on the fly) using the Pro Tools
QuickPunch feature. Of course, you can always just record the whole thing over
again if you want. All these options are covered in the following sections.
Starting over from scratch
Sometimes the best way to get it right is to start over. To record another take of
the entire session, click the Return to Zero button in the Basic Controls section
of the Transport window to return to the beginning of the session. Then follow
the steps in the “Recording a single track” section, earlier in this chapter.
If you record in Destructive mode, any additional takes that you record onto
a track will erase the previous one. So, if you want to make sure that you have
a take for later, first make sure you’re not using Destructive mode when you
record over any existing takes on a track. Or you can create a new playlist for
that track before you record your next take. (See the “Recording to playlists”
section, later in this chapter, for more on how to do that.)
Doing Additional Takes
321
Punching in and out
If you like some of your initial take and want to record over only part of it,
you can set points to start and stop this “recording over” within the session.
This is punching in and out.
Punching in to or out of a track involves (first) setting a start point and an
end point. You can do that in one of several ways, as I detail in the next few
sections.
Before you create your start and end points for a punch, you need to decide
where these points are going to be. To make this decision, you most likely
need to play the track back so you can hear where you want to punch. If
you’re not sure how to do this, the “Playing Back Your Tracks” section earlier in this chapter gives you the details on this process.
Using the Start/End fields in the Transport
To set the start and end points in the Transport window, follow these steps:
1. Select the Expanded view option of the Transport window by choosing View➪Transport➪Expanded from the main menu.
2. Click in the Start field in the Basic Controls section of the Transport
window and type in the beginning of the punch section you want.
3. Press Return/Enter.
4. Click in the End field and type in the end of the range.
This field, too, appears in the format selected for the main counter (as in
Figure 4-8).
5. Press Return/Enter.
You’re now ready to perform a punch. Check out the “Performing the
punch” section, later in this chapter, for steps on how to actually perform
the punch.
Figure 4-8:
Setting your
punch
range.
Recording Audio
This field appears in the same format as the main counter. In the case of
Figure 4-8, it shows bars and beats.
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Doing Additional Takes
Selecting a section of a track’s playlist
The playlist section of the Edit window contains all the regions for the track.
You can make a selection within this playlist by following these steps:
1. Choose Options➪Link Edit and Timeline Selection from the main
menu.
This ensures that when you make your selection in a track’s playlist, the
start and end point markers in the Timebase ruler follow along.
2. With the Selector tool, click and drag over the section in your track
you want to record over, as shown in Figure 4-9.
This highlights the selection and positions the start point at the beginning
of your selection and the end point at the end.
You’re now ready to perform a punch. Go to the “Performing the punch”
section later in this chapter for steps on how to actually perform the punch.
Figure 4-9:
Selecting a
track
segment
from a
track’s
playlist is as
simple as
clicking and
dragging it.
Dragging the Start and End Point markers along the ruler bar
The Start and End Point markers are located along the Timebase ruler in the
Edit window and appear as up and down arrows — up for punch out, and
down for punch in. The flags are colored blue when no tracks are recordenabled and red when one or more tracks are record-enabled. Setting Start
and End Point markers in the Ruler bar consists of these steps:
1. Choose Options➪Link Edit and Timeline Selection from the main menu.
This makes sure that when you drag the markers along the ruler bar, the
corresponding section in the track’s playlist are selected as well.
2. If you want the markers to snap to the grid, click the Grid button in the
upper-left of the Edit window to select the Grid Edit mode; otherwise,
use any other Edit mode.
Doing Additional Takes
323
3. With the Selector tool, click and drag the Start and End Point arrows
to where you want them, as shown in Figure 4-10.
Figure 4-10:
Drag the
arrows to
set your
punch
range.
You’re now ready to perform a punch. The following section lays out steps
on how to actually perform the punch.
If you want to select the entire length of the session, double-click one of the
arrows.
Performing the punch
After you set the start and end points for your punch (whether in or out),
you can record to that section by doing the following:
1. Set and enable a pre-roll by clicking in the Pre-Roll field in the
After you do this, you can hear the previously recorded track before the
punch-in happens.
2. Set and enable a post-roll by clicking in the Post-Roll field in the
expanded Transport window (choose View➪Transport➪Expanded to
get there) and typing in the amount you want for your post-roll.
Doing so lets you hear how your punch fits in with the previously
recorded track.
3. Choose Non-Destructive or Destructive Record mode.
• Non-Destructive Record mode is the default mode and is active if you
have a Record button without any icon in it.
• With Destructive Record mode selected, a small D is visible in the
center of the Record button in the Transport window. Select
Destructive Record mode by choosing Options➪Destructive Record
from the main menu.
Use Destructive Record mode only if you’re really sure you don’t want
to keep the previous take in the selected section.
Recording Audio
expanded Transport window (choose View➪Transport➪Expanded to
get there) and typing in the amount of pre-roll you want.
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Doing Additional Takes
4. Click the Record Enable button for the track you want to record onto.
The button blinks red.
5. Click the Record button.
The Record light flashes red.
6. Click the Play button when you’re ready to record.
The session starts at the pre-roll time, the Record button flashes red,
and you hear the previously recorded track until the pre-roll is over. The
monitoring switches to the input source, and the Record light stops
flashing but remains red.
When you hit the end of the recording range, the session stops playing, or —
if you have the post-roll enabled — stops recording. At that point, the
Record button starts flashing again, and the monitoring switches back to the
recorded region until the end of the post-roll period. When the session
reaches that point, it stops playing.
Loop recording
Loop recording lets you choose a section of the song to repeatedly record again.
This makes it easy to try a bunch of takes without having to manually start and
stop each time through the section. Loop recording can be done a bunch of
ways. I describe one in Chapter 3 in this mini-book, but here’s another:
1. Choose Options➪Link Edit and Timeline Selection from the main menu.
This ensures that when you make a selection in either the Timebase
ruler or within a track’s playlist, both are selected.
2. Click the Selector tool at the top of the Edit window to select it.
3. With the Selector tool, click and drag across the section of the track
that you want to record over.
4. Record-enable the track by clicking the Record Enable button in the
Track Controls section of the Edit window.
5. Select the Loop record mode by choosing Options➪Loop Record,
pressing Option+L (Mac) or Alt+L (PC), or by Control-clicking (Mac) or
right-clicking (PC) the Record button in the Basic Controls section of
the Transport window until the Loop Record icon shows up.
6. Click the Record button in the Basic Controls section of the Transport
window to prepare the session to record.
7. Click Play in the Basic Controls section of the Transport window to
start recording.
Doing Additional Takes
325
If you designated a pre-roll, it will happen only before the first time through
the loop. After that, the loop goes from start point to end point, back to start
points, and so on.
Using QuickPunch
If you have sections that you want to replace in a track (say, a bunch of
guitar counter points to support the lead vocal) and you want to record the
new parts in just one pass of the session, you can use QuickPunch mode.
Setting up for QuickPunch requires these steps:
1. Click the Return to Zero button in Basic Controls section of the
Transport window to return to the beginning of the session.
2. Record-enable the track(s) you want to fix by clicking the Record Enable
button for each track in the Track Controls section of the Edit window.
3. Set the Record mode to QuickPunch by choosing Options➪QuickPunch,
Control-clicking (Mac) or right-clicking (PC) the Record button, or
pressing Ô+Shift+P (Mac) or Ctrl+Shift+P (PC).
The QuickPunch (P) icon appears in the Record button.
4. Click the Play button to start the session.
The Record button flashes while the session plays, and you hear the
previously recorded track in the monitors.
The Record button stops flashing and recording starts immediately.
Monitoring switches from what’s recorded to what’s coming in; you hear
the input source.
6. Click the Record button again to stop recording.
The button begins flashing again, and monitoring switches back to the
recorded track.
You can repeat this procedure up to 100 times per session. (Probably
enough to fix that pesky track, eh?)
Overdubbing: Recording additional tracks
Overdubbing is adding tracks to those already recorded. This process is the
mainstay of the home recordist’s recording repertoire because it allows you
to play all (or as many as you want) of the instruments in your song. You can
start with the drum tracks, add some bass guitar, then some rhythm guitar,
and later the lead vocals, and so on.
Recording Audio
5. Click the Record button when you want to punch in.
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Doing Additional Takes
Overdubbing is similar to recording your first track except that you have to
be able to hear the other tracks and synchronize to them while you play. The
main things to be concerned about when you overdub are
✦ Creating a monitoring mix: Take some time to create a mix of the previously recorded tracks that you can hear as you record so you have a
blend that inspires you to perform your best. Depending on your
system, you might not be able to add any effects to your mix, but getting
the right balance between instruments can really help your recording.
(Check out Book VI for more on mixing.)
✦ Getting into the groove: Make sure that you have the least amount of
latency in your system when overdubbing; otherwise, it can really mess
up the groove. Chapter 3 of this mini-book covers this in detail — and
it’s especially important for instruments with a fast attack and decay,
such as drums and percussion, because they sound awful when they’re
slightly out of time.
Because an Mbox is a USB interface, it has a noticeable latency no matter
what buffer setting you choose for your hardware. This latency can simply
be too much for some critical instruments, so Digidesign has implemented a
monitoring setup that lets you monitor the input of the Mbox while hearing
the output of your recorded tracks, which reduces the latency. To set up
your Mbox monitoring to record without hearing latency, follow these steps:
1. Click the Mute button located in the Track Controls section of the Edit
window to mute the track you’re overdubbing onto.
This keeps you from hearing the track as it comes back out of the
system.
2. Click the Mono switch on the Mbox.
This allows both the input and the recorded tracks to play through both
speakers. If this switch isn’t depressed, you hear the input in one ear only.
3. Adjust the Mix knob on the front of the Mbox to blend your input with
the tracks playing in the session.
You need to do this when the session is playing and you’re playing your
instrument at the same time so you can hear both the recorded tracks and
your input. Try a test run-through to get a balance before you actually
record.
After you record your overdubbed track, you need to move it to a position
that’s 164 samples earlier in the Edit window. These 164 samples are the
exact amount of time that it takes for the sound to go through the Mbox and
into Pro Tools. Follow these steps:
Doing Additional Takes
327
1. Click the Grabber tool (it looks like a small hand) at the top of the Edit
window.
Use this to “grab” the region you want to move.
2. Click and drag to highlight the overdubbed track.
3. Choose Edit➪Shift from the main menu or press Option+H (Mac) or
Alt+H (PC).
The Shift dialog box appears, as shown in Figure 4-11.
4. Select the Earlier radio button in the top and type 164 into the
Samples field at the bottom.
This moves your overdubbed material the exact amount of the latency
introduced by the Mbox when you recorded.
5. Click OK.
Figure 4-11:
Use the
Shift dialog
box to
adjust for
the latency
of the Mbox.
Book III
Chapter 3
Recording to playlists
Whenever you have material recorded to a track, it exists within the Edit
window as a playlist. This playlist contains all the regions (representations
of the actual audio on your hard drive) that are currently in a track. One of
the nice things about Pro Tools is that you can create a bunch of separate
playlists for a track and swap them in and out of the track. Whichever of a
track’s playlists is in the Timebase ruler section of the Edit window is the
one that is heard when your session is playing back.
Playlists are handy for keeping all your takes organized, and they also let
you record additional takes on a track even when you’re using Destructive
Record mode. You can create a new playlist by clicking the little arrows next
Recording Audio
To make sure each overdubbed track lines up with the first track, you need
to shift each overdubbed track over immediately after you record it (or at least
before you record another overdub). This ensures that all the recorded tracks
you’re hearing are lined up with the first track when you record a new one.
328
Doing Additional Takes
to the track’s name in the Track Controls section of the Edit window. This
opens a drop-down menu for a track, as shown in Figure 4-12.
To record to this playlist, follow the steps in the “Recording a single track”
section, earlier in this chapter.
Figure 4-12:
Use the
playlist
drop-down
menu for a
track to
create a
new playlist.
Auditioning takes
After you record a bunch of takes of a track, you can audition them to see
which one you prefer: from the Audio Regions list, from the Take List dropdown menu, and from the track’s playlist. You can also set preferences for
viewing takes of a track, and you can audition takes from multiple tracks at
once. All these options are covered in this section.
Auditioning from the Audio Regions list
You can take regions from the Audio Regions list, located at the right side of
the Edit window (if this list isn’t visible, click the double arrow at the bottomright corner of the Edit window) and drag them directly into a track’s playlist
(the regions that represent the audio for a track), located to the right of the
Track Controls section of the Edit window.
1. Click the Grabber button in the Edit window to select the Grabber tool.
2. Click the current take in the track’s playlist, as shown in Figure 4-13.
The playlist in a track consists of all the regions that you can see in the
session.
3. Press Ô (Mac) or Ctrl (PC) and click another take in the Audio Regions
list.
The Audio Regions list is located on the right side of the Edit window. If
it’s not visible, click the double arrow at the bottom-right corner of the
window to expand the Edit window.
Doing Additional Takes
329
Figure 4-13:
Use the
Grabber tool
to select the
take you
want to
replace.
4. Drag the track from the Audio Regions list onto the playlist, as shown
in Figure 4-14.
The region is placed in a track and is ready to play.
Figure 4-14:
Click and
drag the
take you
want from
the Audio
Regions list
onto the
track.
Regions list
Book III
Chapter 3
You can audition your takes by opening a drop-down menu that has a list of
all the takes for a punch or loop recording session. This option lets you freely
switch the takes while the session plays. This section outlines the procedures.
1. Click the Selector button in the Edit window to choose the Selector tool.
2. Select a take within a track’s playlist (the regions located to the right
of the track name) and Ô-click it (Mac) or Ctrl-click it (PC) to open the
Takes List drop-down menu, as shown in Figure 4-15.
You can also click the precise Start point of the punch or loop range in the
track’s playlist or along the Timebase ruler without first selecting the track.
3. Choose the take you want to hear from the Takes List drop-down menu.
This take replaces the previous one and is placed at its correct position
in the session.
Recording Audio
Auditioning from the Takes List drop-down menu
330
Doing Additional Takes
Figure 4-15:
The Takes
List dropdown menu.
You can follow the steps for both of these approaches if you want to audition
more takes.
From the Takes List drop-down menu, you can choose and change takes
even while the session is playing.
The different takes are listed in the order they were recorded. If you start
moving them around, though, you can identify them by the time stamp created when you recorded the take.
Choosing from a track’s playlist
The track’s playlist contains the regions located in a track. The playlist is
located to the right of the Track Controls for each track and represents the
audio data for the track. To audition tracks from a track’s playlist, click in the
little arrows next to the track’s name in the Track Controls section of the Edit
window to open the playlist drop-down menu and then choose the playlist to
play, as shown in Figure 4-16. The name of the track changes to the name in
the chosen playlist.
Figure 4-16:
Choose a
region to
play from
the playlist
drop-down
menu.
Choosing your take’s preferences
You can use the “Matching Start Time” Takes List section of the Edit tab of
the Preferences dialog box (as shown in Figure 4-17) to choose which takes
get listed in the Takes List drop-down menu. (To access the Preferences
dialog box, choose Setup➪Preferences from the main menu.)
Doing Additional Takes
331
Figure 4-17:
The
“Matching
Start Time”
Takes List
options.
The Takes List options include the following:
✦ Includes Take Region Name(s) That Match Track Names: Selecting this
check box ensures that only takes from the same track are present.
✦ “Separate Region” Operates on All Related Tracks: If you select this
check box, all takes with the same User Time Stamp are edited when you
use the Separate Region command for the track.
Auditioning takes from multiple tracks at one time
If you want to audition takes from multiple tracks at once — for example,
when recording drums to several tracks at a time — follow these steps:
1. Select both the Take Region Name(s) That Match Track Names and the
Take Regions Lengths That Match options in the “Matching Start
Time” Takes List section of the Edit tab of the Preferences dialog box.
(See the previous section.)
2. Click the Selector button in the Edit window to choose the Selector tool.
Recording Audio
✦ Includes Take Region Lengths That Match: Selecting this option shows
only those takes that are the same length as the one presently in the
track.
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332
Getting Rid of Unwanted Takes
3. With the Selector tool, drag across all the tracks for the range you
want to replace, as shown in Figure 4-18.
4. Ô-click (Mac) or Ctrl-click (PC) one of the tracks within that selected
region.
The Takes List drop-down menu appears. Takes that match the preferences
set in Step 1 show up in the list.
5. Choose a region (take) from the list.
Figure 4-18:
To select
multiple
tracks on
which to
audition
takes, drag
across the
tracks you
want.
Getting Rid of Unwanted Takes
If you have a take (recorded performance) that you don’t like, you can get rid
of it in one of several ways. You can cancel the take while you’re recording,
undo the take after you’ve recorded it, or clear the audio region from the
Audio Regions list. All these options are detailed in the following sections.
Canceling your performance
Canceling a performance is handy when you’re in the middle of recording
and you know you’re not going to keep the take. (For example, the mail arrived,
causing the dog to go ballistic in the middle of your vocal.) To cancel a
performance, simply press Ô+. (period; Mac) or Alt+. (period; PC). This stops
the session and clears the audio region created for this take with one stroke.
You can’t use this command if you record in Destructive Record mode.
Getting Rid of Unwanted Takes
333
Undoing your take
If you already stopped recording and you know that you don’t want to keep
your latest try, you can undo the take by choosing Edit➪Undo Record from the
main menu (as shown in Figure 4-19) or by pressing Ô+Z (Mac) or Ctrl+Z (PC).
If you used QuickPunch mode, only the last punch will be undone. If you
used Loop Record mode, on the other hand, all the looped passes will be
undone. And if you used Destructive Record mode, your previous take will
have already been erased when you recorded — so undoing the last take will
leave you with nothing on that track.
Book III
Chapter 3
Recording Audio
Figure 4-19:
Undo a take
from the
main menu.
Clearing the file from the Audio Regions list
After hearing a few of your takes, if you decide that you want to get rid of
one or more of them, you can clear the take(s) from the Audio Regions list.
The following steps show how:
1. Click the region you want to get rid of in the Audio Regions list to
highlight it.
To select more than one region to clear, press and hold the Shift key
while you click each region.
334
Getting Rid of Unwanted Takes
2. Choose Audio Regions➪Clear Selected from the main menu (see
Figure 4-20) or press Shift+Ô+B (Mac) or Ctrl+Shift+B (PC).
Your selected takes are deleted.
Figure 4-20:
Choosing
Audio
Regions➪
Clear
Selected
from the
main menu
gets rid of a
selected
take.
Book IV
Editing Audio
Contents at a Glance
Chapter 1: Audio Editing Basics ........................................................................................337
Chapter 2: Selecting Material to Edit ................................................................................359
Chapter 3: Getting into Editing..........................................................................................385
Chapter 4: Adding to Your Editing Palette ......................................................................411
Chapter 1: Audio Editing Basics
In This Chapter
Getting to know hard drive editing
Working with audio regions
Using edit modes
Editing playlists
H
ard drive recording — in general, and with Pro Tools specifically —
makes editing audio fast and easy. In days of old, if you wanted to
remove a bad note or shoddy drum hit, you had to break out a razor blade
and some sticky tape, prepare the offending segment of magnetic tape for
surgery, hold your breath, and apply a steady hand. Any changes to the
recorded tracks got you into a messy, inexact, time-consuming process that
many engineers weren’t very good at. Even the steadiest hands couldn’t
come close to the accuracy and variety now available (to even the clumsiest
of the bunch) through the editing functions of the new digital gear.
This chapter gets you started on the process of editing audio in Pro Tools.
First, you get to know the basic ways that Pro Tools does editing — in
particular, the role of audio regions (representations of your audio files in
the Edit window). This chapter then guides you through finding and viewing
regions so making edits is quick and easy. You also discover the joys of using
playlists to work with these regions. And as if all that wasn’t enough, this
chapter also explains the four different edit modes available in Pro Tools.
Understanding Pro Tools Editing
Editing in Pro Tools on your computer is similar to working with any hard
drive recorder — and often, it’s much easier. Two things about editing in Pro
Tools make it fast, easy, and (from the viewpoint of your creative work) safe:
✦ Unless you specify otherwise, it’s nondestructive: That is, you can
always undo your edit if you don’t like it.
✦ You can perform most editing functions in Pro Tools while your session
is playing back.
I detail both of these features in the following sections.
338
Getting to Know Region Types
Nondestructive editing
Nondestructive editing does not change your original audio files when you
edit an audio region. Most editing functions in Pro Tools — clearing, cutting,
pasting, separating, and trimming your audio regions, for example — are
nondestructive. (All these operations are explained in Chapter 2 of this
mini-book.)
Not all Pro Tool editing procedures are nondestructive. A few are destructive:
Using them will permanently alter your source audio file. Whenever I describe
one of these procedures, I’ll warn you (look for a Warning icon) that after
you perform the function, your source file will be changed.
Editing during playback
Most editing functions can be carried out while the session is playing. This
feature makes editing much faster and easier because you can instantly hear
(and see) what your changes have done. Some of these edits include
✦ Capturing, separating, and trimming regions
✦ Nudging, placing, rearranging, or spotting regions
✦ Creating fades or crossfades in and between regions (version 6.0 and later)
✦ Auditioning playlists
✦ Editing automation data
✦ Inserting RealTime plug-ins (version 6.0 and later)
✦ Processing audio using AudioSuite plug-ins
You can find out more about these functions throughout this chapter and the
next three chapters (Chapters 2–4 in this mini-book).
Getting to Know Region Types
When you record a track, a new audio region is created in the track’s playlist
(the track displays you see next to the Track Controls section in the Edit
window). This region corresponds to an audio file of that performance,
which resides on your hard drive. When you perform edits to your recorded
performances, you do so by making changes to these regions.
Both edited and unedited regions appear on the Audio Regions list, the
handy list you find to the right of the track playlist. (If the Audio Regions list
isn’t visible, click the double arrow at the far bottom-right of the Edit window
to open it.) Several region types show up in the list, indicating the entire audio
Viewing Regions
339
file or a portion of it. You can choose Whole-File, User-Defined, Auto-Created,
Offline, and Stereo audio regions. The following list gives you details on each
region type:
✦ Whole-File: Whole-file audio regions represent entire audio files recorded
to your hard drive. Displayed in bold letters in the Audio Regions list,
they’re created when you do one of four things:
• First record an audio track.
• Import an audio file from outside the session.
• Consolidate existing regions.
• Nondestructively process audio by using an AudioSuite plug-in.
✦ User-Defined: User-defined regions are created when you do one of three
things:
• Rename an existing region.
• Capture, record, consolidate, or separate audio regions.
• Trim a whole-file region.
✦ Auto-Created: These regions are automatically created when you edit a
region or punch-record over one. The more takes you record of your
tracks — and the more edits you do — the more these regions add up.
To keep your Audio Regions list from becoming cluttered, you can hide
your Auto-Created regions easily, or you can convert them into fullfledged User-Defined regions by renaming them.
✦ Offline: These regions can’t be linked to an audio file on your hard drive,
usually because Pro Tools can’t find the original file. In the Audio Regions
list, the names of these regions are displayed in dimmed italics; in the
track’s playlist, they show up in blue italics. You can generally edit these
regions like you would any other region except that you can’t process
them by using AudioSuite plug-ins.
✦ Stereo: These audio regions are associated with a stereo file. If you click
the triangle to the left of the region name, you can see the two mono
channels (one for each side) listed. These individual channels can be
dragged onto separate tracks, if you choose.
You can customize how you view audio regions a number of ways in Pro Tools:
Select the track view, change the track height, assign name and time locations,
or zoom in and out. These options get a closer look in the following sections.
Audio Editing
Basics
Viewing Regions
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Chapter 1
340
Viewing Regions
Selecting the track view
By default, audio tracks in the Edit window are set to Waveform view. This
view shows a visual representation of the sound produced by the audio file
associated with a particular region. Pro Tools also gives you the option of
ditching the Waveform view and going with something different. You switch
between different views with the help of the Track View menu, as shown in
Figure 1-1, which you access by clicking and holding the Track View display
in the Track Controls section of the Edit window.
Figure 1-1:
Select a
view of a
region in a
track from
the Track
View menu.
Your options are as follows:
✦ Block: Block view shows a blank box for each audio region. This view
makes screen redraws much quicker, which is useful during mixing when
all the editing is done and you don’t need to see the waveform.
✦ Waveform: Waveform view is the default — a graphical representation of
the audio file, much like what you’d see if you ran a sound through an
oscilloscope. This is the best view to be in when you’re editing regions
because you can easily find the start of a note. After a while, you’ll probably be able to almost hear the track by looking at the waveform.
Besides being able to see waveforms in their normal way — with both
positive and negative values — you can choose the Draw Waveforms
Rectified option, which displays the waveform as a summed value of the
positive and negative level. This can be useful when you want to create
volume automation to increase or reduce specific notes (such as, respectively, a weak or very loud drum hit). To get that rectified look, select the
Draw Waveforms Rectified check box on the Display tab of the Preferences
dialog box. (You know the drill: Choose Setup➪Preferences from the main
menu to get to the Preferences dialog box.)
✦ Volume: This view shows the volume level of the track. The volume level
is displayed as a line superimposed over the waveform. In this view, the
region’s name is hidden.
Viewing Regions
341
✦ Mute: This view shows whether the track is muted. When a track is muted,
the line shows at the bottom of the view; when the track is unmuted, the
line shows at the top. If a track uses automatic muting, a vertical line
shows where the mute is turned on or off. This view also shows the
waveform in the background.
✦ Pan: Pan view shows the apparent position of the track’s output from
left to right (pan) in the stereo sound. When the track is panned in the
center, the line is centered in the view. Far-left panning shows up at the
top; far-right is on the bottom. Settings in between these two extremes
correspond to the pan value. In this view, you can also see a waveform
display in the background.
You can toggle between Waveform and Volume views by highlighting the track
and pressing Control+– (minus/dash; Mac) or Windows+– (minus/dash; PC).
Adjusting the track height
Pro Tools lets you adjust your track heights. You can either choose from various track heights (Micro, Mini, Small, Medium, Large, Jumbo, Extreme, and
Fit to Window), or you can simply click and drag the lower boundary of your
track with your mouse to the height that you want. These choices allow you
to make tracks you’re not editing small, while the tracks you want to edit can
be made big enough so that you can really get in close to a waveform when
you edit. You choose your various track heights from the Track Height
drop-down menu, which you can access from
✦ The Track Height Selector button in the Track Controls section of the
Edit window: Click and hold with the mouse pointer over the button (it
looks like a >) to make the Track Height drop-down menu appear, as
shown in Figure 1-2. Choose the size you want.
✦ The far-right edge of the Track Controls section: Choose the track height
you want by clicking and holding with the mouse pointer over the little
ruler at the far side of the Track Controls section (as in Figure 1-3) and
selecting an option from the Track Height drop-down menu that appears.
Audio Editing
Basics
Figure 1-2:
Open the
Track Height
menu by
clicking and
holding the
Track Height
selector
button.
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Chapter 1
Track Height Selector button
342
Viewing Regions
Figure 1-3:
Open the
Track Height
menu by
clicking the
far-right
edge of the
Track
Controls
section.
For stereo tracks, you can choose an expanded view that allows you to view
each channel separately. If you edit the channels individually and they end up
being different lengths, these stereo tracks become two mono tracks instead.
Assigning region-name and time-location displays
Every audio region has a region name and time stamp attached to it. You can
choose whether this information shows up on the region displays in your tracks.
Displaying region names
You can choose to show or hide the name of the regions in the track displays
by choosing View➪Region➪Name, as shown in Figure 1-4. (Choose View➪
Region➪Name again to uncheck the option.)
Figure 1-4:
Show the
name in the
Tracks
Region
display.
Choosing region time stamps
You can choose any of several time stamp views by choosing View➪Region,
and then selecting a time stamp view: Current Time, Original Time Stamp (as
shown Figure 1-5), User Time Stamp, or No Time.
Viewing Regions
343
Figure 1-5:
Choose time
stamp views
from the
Region
option under
the View
menu.
Your options include
✦ Current Time: This choice shows the start and end times of each region.
✦ Original Time Stamp: This option shows the time when the region was
created.
✦ User Time Stamp: This option displays a time stamp that you can define.
By default, it shows the original time, but you can change it in the Time
Stamp option under the Audio Regions list drop-down menu, which you
can open by clicking the Audio Regions title bar at the top of the Audio
Regions list. Selecting the Time Stamp option opens the User Time Stamp
dialog box where you can enter the value you want, as shown in Figure 1-6.
✦ No Time: This option hides the time stamp.
Figure 1-6:
The User
Time Stamp
dialog box.
Book IV
Chapter 1
Zooming in and out
Audio Editing
Basics
You can zoom in and out of all tracks by using the Zoom buttons at the top
of the Edit window (see Figure 1-7), or you can zoom in and out of a single
track by using the Zoom tool (see upcoming Figure 1-8). You can also zoom
in on the ruler and toggle the zoom back and forth between unzoomed and
zoomed. Being able to zoom way in to a region lets you make precise edits to
the waveform.
344
Viewing Regions
Figure 1-7:
Use Zoom
buttons to
zoom in and
out of
tracks.
Zoom buttons
Zooming in on all tracks with the Zoom buttons
The Zoom buttons section of the Edit window has buttons that allow you to
zoom in and out both horizontally and vertically, as well as buttons for creating
zoom presets for levels that you use frequently. The following list gives you the
details on each feature:
✦ Horizontal Zoom: The outer two Zoom buttons control how wide of a
portion of the timeline — and of all audio and MIDI tracks and regions —
that you can see onscreen. Clicking the left button gives you a narrower
view; clicking the right button gives you a wider view.
✦ Vertical Zoom: To zoom in vertically on audio (left vertical zoom button)
or MIDI (right vertical zoom button) tracks, click the top or bottom part of
the button with the waveform icon (at the left of the window). Clicking the
top of the button increases the height of the display in the track’s view;
clicking the bottom decreases the height.
Increasing the vertical zoom might make the waveform too big to fit in the
track display. If this is the case, you can increase the track’s height as
described in the “Adjusting the track height” section, earlier in this chapter.
✦ Zoom Presets: At the bottom of the Zoom buttons section are five presets
that work like the presets on a car radio. To assign a setting to a Preset
button, just get the Zoom setting you want — kind of like tuning a car radio
to the station you want — and then Ô-click (Mac) or Ctrl-click (PC) the
Preset button. Then repeat the steps for the other four preset buttons.
You can select a preset by
• Clicking the numbered Preset button you want in the Zoom buttons section of the Edit window
• Pressing the number of the Preset button you want on your keyboard
while pressing Control (Mac) or Windows (PC)
• With Command Keyboard Focus (Commands Focus) enabled, pressing
the number of the Preset number you want on the number pad of your
keyboard
Enable Command Keyboard Focus by clicking the Command
Keyboard Focus button, as shown here in the margin.
Viewing Regions
345
Zooming in on a single track with the Zoom tool
Use the Zoom tool to select a specific spot in a track to zoom in and out of.
The Zoom tool has two modes: Normal and Single Zoom.
✦ Normal Zoom mode: You can zoom in and out horizontally and vertically on the waveform when using this mode.
• Zoom horizontally: First click the Zoom tool button, as shown here in
the margin, to select the Zoom tool. Then click and drag a section to
select it, as shown in Figure 1-8. Pro Tools zooms to that section. To
zoom in farther, click and drag again.
Figure 1-8:
Click and
drag with
the Zoom
tool to
zoom in
horizontally.
• Zoom vertically and horizontally: Press Ô (Mac) or Ctrl (PC) and then
click and drag the section, as shown in Figure 1-9. Pro Tools zooms
in. Repeat to zoom in farther.
To zoom out again, press Option (Mac) or Alt (PC) key while you
click the zoomed area. Each click moves you out a little bit.
Figure 1-9:
Moving in
vertically
and
horizontally.
Book IV
Chapter 1
Audio Editing
Basics
✦ Single Zoom mode: If you’re in Single Zoom mode when you finish
zooming in on a spot, Pro Tools switches you back to the tool you were
using. For example, if you want to scrub a section of a track and need to
zoom in to get a more accurate start point, you can use the Single Zoom
mode of the Zoom tool to zoom in. After you’re zoomed in, you automatically return to the Scrub tool.
346
Viewing Regions
You can select Single Zoom mode by:
• Clicking and holding the Zoom tool button (as shown here in the
margin) and selecting the Single Zoom option
• Clicking the Zoom tool button and pressing F5 on your keyboard to
toggle back and forth between Zoom tool modes
No matter which method you choose to select Single Zoom mode,
after you’re in this mode, the Zoom tool button changes its face to
look like what you see here in the margin.
Zooming in on the ruler
If you have a spot in your session (the start of the chorus, for example) that
you want to zoom into, you can use the ruler bar (where the location of your
session is displayed) to select your zoom location. This is done by Ô+Controlclicking (Mac) or Ctrl+Alt-clicking (PC) over a section of the ruler to zoom in
one level. You can also drag over a section of the ruler while holding Ô and
Control (Mac) or Ctrl and Alt (PC).
Zooming with the Zoom Toggle command
The Zoom Toggle command takes a selection, increases the track’s height to
Large, and fills the window. This command makes zooming quick by using
just one keystroke. This is a great function to use when you edit parts and need
to get in really close to make an accurate edit, and then move out further to
find the next spot to edit. To use the Zoom Toggle command, follow these steps:
1. Choose the Selector tool by clicking it at the top of the Edit window.
2. With the Selector tool, select a portion of one or more tracks.
3. Press Control+E (Mac) or Windows+E (PC).
The track height changes to the Large setting (see the “Adjusting the
track height” section, earlier in the chapter) and the selection fills the
space.
4. Repeat Step 3 to return to the previous view.
If you want to change the default height for the Toggle Zoom to something
other than Large, use the Zoom Toggle Track Height drop-down menu. (It’s
on the Editing tab of the Preferences dialog box, as shown in Figure 1-10.)
Choose Setup➪Preferences from the main menu to call up the Preferences
dialog box, from which you can select any of the possible Track Height options.
Understanding Edit Modes
347
Figure 1-10:
Setting the
default
height for
Toggle
Zoom.
Understanding Edit Modes
Pro Tools offers four basic edit modes; the mode you use depends on the task
you want to perform. You get a chance to dig pretty deep into these edit modes
in the next chapter, but here’s a basic overview of each of them. Figure 1-11
shows all four edit mode buttons — Shuffle, Spot, Slip, and Grid — all nicely
lined up on the toolbar — and coming right up is a list that gives you a taste of
what each mode can do for you.
Four edit modes
Figure 1-11:
Pro Tools
offers four
edit modes:
Shuffle,
Spot, Slip,
and Grid.
✦ Shuffle: Shuffle mode allows you to move a region around in an audio track,
automatically placing it at the end of the nearest region. This is a handy
way to move regions around if you want to experiment with alternate
arrangements of a song. For example, you can move the second bar of a
four-bar phrase to the last bar by grabbing it and sliding it over to the end.
The third bar moves to replace the second, and the second bar snaps right
to the end of the fourth. Presto! New arrangement!
Audio Editing
Basics
✦ Spot: In Spot mode, you can designate the exact timeline placement of a
region you want to move. Click to engage Spot mode, and then click a
region (which brings up the Spot dialog box, as shown in Figure 1-12).
Enter the place you want to move the region to in the appropriate field
and then click OK.
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Understanding Edit Modes
Figure 1-12:
Use the
Spot dialog
box to
choose
where to
place a
region.
If you want to move the region back to its original place, you can click the
arrow to the right of the Original Time Stamp field in the Spot dialog box.
✦ Slip: Use Slip mode to move regions anywhere you want within the
playlist. You can have regions overlap or leave space between them, for
instance. To move a region using Slip mode, click and hold over the
region and then drag it where you want.
✦ Grid: Moving a region using Grid mode snaps the region to the predefined
time grid. Grid mode is useful if you want to quickly move a drum part
over a beat, for example. Starting with version 6.0, Grid mode gives you
two different options: Absolute and Relative. To choose one of these
modes, click and hold the Grid button and then choose the one you want.
Here’s what they offer you:
• Absolute Grid mode: When using Absolute Grid mode, if you move a
region that doesn’t begin where the grid resides — on the & of 1
when the grid is set to 1/4 notes, for example — the region will snap
to the resolution of the grid.
This isn’t a good mode to use if you have a region that starts on the &
of 1 (1/8 note after the downbeat) with a 1/4 note grid and you want
the region to fit in the measure the same way after moving it. Your
start point will move to a downbeat and all the rest of your notes will
be off by an eighth note.
• Relative Grid mode: In Relative Grid mode, you move regions by the
unit of the grid (1/4 notes, for example). So, in the example of a
region starting on the & of 1 with a grid resolution of 1/4 notes, the
region will move over by the grid value (1/4 notes), leaving the start
time of the region on the & of the beat.
Relative Grid mode is useful for moving a drum hit over and having it
fit within the grid, even if its start point doesn’t originally match the
grid itself.
Understanding Edit Modes
349
Setting grid resolution
Setting grid resolution is an outrageously handy tool for precision-tweaking
the rhythms of your track. If you decide to go the Grid mode route, you can
set the resolution of the grid that you work in by following these steps:
1. Click and hold on the Grid Value window, located under the Edit tools
in the main Edit window, as shown in Figure 1-13.
The Grid Resolution menu appears, offering you choices for the resolution of your grid — 1/2 notes, 1/4 notes, 1/16 notes, whatever.
2. Drag to the resolution you want.
Within this menu, you can also choose the time scale you want the grid
in as well as whether you want the grid to follow the main time scale.
Grid Value window
Figure 1-13:
Click and
hold the
Grid Value
window to
open the
Grid
Resolution
menu.
Displaying grid lines
Again, if you want to work in Grid mode, you might find the grid lines in the
Edit window helpful. You can get them to display by using one of two methods:
✦ Select the Draw Grids in Edit Window check box in the Display tab of the
Preferences dialog box, as shown in Figure 1-14. (Call up the Preferences
dialog box by choosing Setup➪Preferences from the main menu.)
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Audio Editing
Basics
Figure 1-14:
Turn on the
Grid view
here.
350
Working (Okay, Playing) with Playlists
✦ With Grid Edit mode enabled, click the Timeline Ruler (Bars:Beats)
button to toggle the grid on and off, as shown in Figure 1-15.
Timeline Ruler button
Figure 1-15:
Click the
Timeline
Ruler button
to toggle the
grid on and
off in Grid
Edit mode.
Working (Okay, Playing) with Playlists
The Edit playlists within your tracks consist of various arrangements of the
regions within a track. Each track can have one or more regions that you can
arrange in any order that you want using the edit modes listed in the previous
section. Edit playlists allow you to experiment with different arrangements of
regions within a track — and you can still change them at will by switching to
another playlist. This is handy if you want to try different arrangements of
songs and easily compare them without having to create copies of entire
sessions (as you would with some other programs).
Edit playlists are accessed by clicking the Playlist selector in the Track section of the Edit window, as shown in Figure 1-16. From the menu called up by
the Playlist selector, as shown in all its glory in Figure 1-17, you can choose
from the various playlists as well as create, duplicate, or delete them.
Creating a new playlist
When you record or import audio into a track, you automatically create an
empty playlist. With this new playlist, you can import audio regions, drag
those regions in, or copy and paste them from other tracks. You can create
additional playlists by opening the Playlist drop-down menu; just click the
Playlist selector next to the track’s name in the Track Controls section of the
Edit window and choose New. (See Figure 1-17.)
Working (Okay, Playing) with Playlists
351
Click here to open the
Playlist drop-down menu.
Figure 1-16:
Find the
Playlist
selector in
the Track
Controls
section of
the Edit
window.
Figure 1-17:
Use the
Playlist
drop-down
menu to
manage
playlists for
each track.
Duplicating a playlist
Being able to duplicate a playlist makes creating different arrangements of a
track or making edits to the regions in a playlist easy. Instead of creating a new
blank playlist, you start from one you already created. To duplicate a playlist,
click and hold with the mouse pointer over the Playlist selector and then
choose Duplicate. You get the option of naming the new playlist or going with
the default.
Deleting a playlist
You can’t undo this operation.
1. Make sure that the playlist you want to delete isn’t the active one in
the track.
Audio Editing
Basics
Playlists take up no space on your hard drive, so you don’t need to delete
them to free up space. Still, if you want to delete a playlist from a session,
follow these steps.
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Using the Audio Regions List
2. Open the track’s playlist menu by clicking the Playlist selector (the
arrows located next to the track’s name in the Track Controls section
of the Edit window).
3. Choose Delete Unused.
A dialog box opens, listing all playlists in the track (except the currently
assigned playlist).
4. Select the playlist that you want to delete from the list.
To delete more than one, press and hold the Shift key while you select
the playlists.
5. Click OK.
The selected playlist is deleted.
Renaming playlists
To rename the current playlist in a track, double-click the name of the track
where the playlist resides and then type in a new name.
Choosing playlists
You can choose the playlist that appears in a track by clicking the Playlist
selector (the arrows located next to the track’s name in the Track Controls
section of the Edit window) and dragging to the playlist you want. The name
of the playlist then shows up as the track’s name.
Using the Audio Regions List
All the audio regions in your session are displayed in the Audio Regions list,
located on the right side of your Edit or Mix window, as shown in Figure 1-18.
From this list you can
✦ Drag a region into a track.
✦ Drag to rearrange regions in the list.
✦ Audition any region by Option-clicking (Mac) or Alt-clicking (PC) a
region in the list.
Using the Audio Regions List
353
Figure 1-18:
The Audio
Regions list
shows all
the regions
in a session.
After you start recording, importing, and editing regions in your session, you
can start accumulating regions in this list very quickly. Fortunately, Pro
Tools helps you keep track of them by displaying region types differently.
The “distinguishing marks” are as follows:
✦ Whole File regions are in bold.
✦ Auto-Defined and User-Defined regions are in regular text.
✦ Offline regions are in italics.
✦ Stereo regions contain two mono regions that can be expanded by clicking the triangle to the left of the region name.
Selecting regions
Here’s how to select single or multiple regions from the Audio Regions list:
✦ To select a single region: Click a single region. It becomes highlighted.
Then select the Region List Selection Follows Track Selection check box
on the Editing tab of the Preferences dialog box (the dialog box you get
by choosing Setup➪Preferences from the main menu). Voilá! The track
containing this region becomes highlighted to show it’s selected.
✦ To select a range of contiguous regions: You have two choices:
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Chapter 1
• With the cursor on the left of the Audio Regions list (a marquee will
appear), click and drag across the regions you want to select.
✦ To select multiple regions that aren’t next to one another: Your
method depends on your platform:
• Mac: With the cursor located over the name of the region, Ô-click
each region.
• PC: Shift-click over the name of each region.
Audio Editing
Basics
• Shift-click to the left of the first and last region names for a group of
regions. All the regions in between these two are selected.
354
Using the Audio Regions List
Using the Audio Regions list drop-down menu
Audio regions can also be managed from the drop-down menu located at the
top of the Audio Regions list, as shown in Figure 1-19. (The Audio Regions
list is located at the right side of the Edit window. If it isn’t visible, click the
double arrow at the bottom-right corner of the Edit window to open it.) Open
this menu by clicking and holding the Audio Regions title at the top of the Audio
Regions list. Many of the functions in this menu are covered in this section.
Figure 1-19:
Use the
Audio
Regions
drop-down
menu to
manage
your audio
regions.
Sorting regions
After you start editing in earnest, the regions in the Audio Regions list start
adding up. The only way to keep track of them is by being able to sort them.
Pro Tools offers you several ways to sort, including by name, time stamp
(when it was recorded), length, and a host of other parameters. To sort
regions from the Audio Regions drop-down menu, choose Sort By from the
menu and then choose one of the many options pictured in Figure 1-20.
Figure 1-20:
Sorting
regions in
many ways
from the
Audio
Regions
drop-down
menu.
Managing Undos
355
Finding regions
You can find regions in the list by choosing Find from the Audio Regions
drop-down menu. When you do, a dialog box appears, as shown in Figure
1-21, where you can enter part of a word or a whole word for the region you
want to find.
Figure 1-21:
Type a word
or part of a
word of the
region you
want to find.
Displaying region information
Besides displaying just the region’s name — the default for the Audio Regions
list — you can have Pro Tools display some additional information about the
region in the playlist section of the track:
✦ The complete path of the region’s location: Choose the Show option
from the Audio Regions list drop-down menu; then from this list, choose
Full Path. Open this menu by clicking and holding the Audio Regions
title at the top of the Audio Regions list located on the right side of the
Edit window. (If this list isn’t visible, click the double arrow at the
bottom-right corner of the Edit window.)
✦ The name of the file where the audio region is located: Choose Show
from the Audio Regions list drop-down menu; then from that list, choose
File Name.
✦ The name of the hard drive where the file is located: To see this information, choose Show from the Audio Regions list drop-down menu; then, from
that list, choose Disk Name.
Here’s the realm where digital editing saves you vast quantities of time, hassle,
and frustration: Pro Tools lets you undo operations that you perform in your
sessions. This gives you vast flexibility and offers at least some safety net
when you start messing around with your songs.
Audio Editing
Basics
Managing Undos
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Managing Undos
Setting levels of Undo
Prior to version 6.1, Pro Tools offered up to 16 levels of Undo. Versions 6.1
and later offer up to 32 levels of Undo. You don’t have to use them all, though.
In fact, if you have minimal memory on your computer, performing edit
operations in Pro Tools will quickly fill it up and really slow things down. Or,
if your memory is really low, you might not be able to perform an edit at all
because all your previous edits are stored in RAM, right up to the number
you specify in your preferences.
Luckily, Pro Tools offers you the ability to choose the maximum levels of
Undo that your session will have. You can set these levels on your session
by doing the following:
1. Choose Setup➪Preferences from the main menu.
The Preferences dialog box duly appears.
2. Click the Editing tab.
3. Type in the number of Undos you want in your session in the Levels of
Undo field at the bottom of the window, as shown in Figure 1-22.
4. Click OK.
Figure 1-22:
Choose the
levels of
Undo in your
session.
Performing Undos
Performing Undos in Pro Tools is just like any other program: Choose
Edit➪_Undo from the main menu. The Undo option also includes the name
of the operation that you’re undoing, as shown in Figure 1-23. This is helpful
when you want to perform multiple Undos because you have to move back
progressively through each operation that you performed. Keeping track of
32 operations can be tricky.
You can redo an Undo — but only the last one — by choosing Edit➪Redo
from the main menu.
Managing Undos
357
Figure 1-23:
When
undoing an
operation,
the menu
shows you
what you’re
undoing.
Knowing when you can no longer Undo
Some operations result in clearing your Undo lineup. Whenever you perform
the following operations, your previous operations can no longer be undone:
✦ Importing track or session data.
✦ Selecting Select Unused Regions or Select Unused Regions Except Whole
Files from the Audio Regions list drop-down menu.
✦ Deleting a track or clearing a region from the Audio Regions list dropdown menu.
Pro Tools won’t warn you before you perform these operations. But hey,
sometimes we human beings actually do know what we’re doing.
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Basics
358
Book IV: Editing Audio
Chapter 2: Selecting Material
to Edit
In This Chapter
Selecting parts of regions
Changing and extending selections
Playing selections
B
efore you can edit any audio regions, you have to make a selection. Pro
Tools offers many ways to select material. You can select from a single
track, grouped tracks, or the entire track list. You can select from a track’s
playlist or from the Timeline ruler. And you can make adjustments to the
length and position of the selected material. All these options are covered
in this chapter.
Selecting Track Material
When you select material to edit, the selection becomes highlighted. And, if
you have the Edit and Timeline Selection Linked option chosen, you see
little arrows in the Timeline ruler designating the Start and End points of the
selection. Figure 2-1 shows a selection, whereas you can see the handy Link
Timeline and Edit Selection button right here in the margin. The arrows are
blue if no tracks are enabled for recording and red if tracks are enabled for
recording.
If you haven’t chosen the Link Timeline and Edit Selection option, Edit
markers — instead of arrows — mark your selection, as shown in Figure 2-2.
360
Selecting Track Material
Figure 2-1:
With Edit
and Timeline
selections
linked,
arrows in
the Timeline
ruler show
where a
selection
starts and
ends.
Figure 2-2:
When Edit
and Timeline
selections
aren’t
linked, Edit
markers do
the same
duty.
Selecting part of a region
You can select material one of three ways:
✦ Drag within a track’s playlist, as shown in Figure 2-3. Do this by clicking
and dragging your start and end points within the track’s playlist.
✦ Drag along the Timeline ruler, as shown in Figure 2-4. Do this by clicking
and dragging your start and end points along the Timeline ruler or by
moving the Start and End Point arrows to where you want them. Doing
this selects all the unhidden tracks in the session.
✦ Enter values in the Start and End fields of your Expanded section in
the Transport window, as shown in Figure 2-5. Do this by highlighting a
track and typing in your start point in the Start field and then pressing
Return/Enter. Type in your end point in the End field and press Return/
Enter, or type in the length of the selection in the Length field and press
Return/Enter.
When you make a selection within a track that is part of a group, all tracks in
the group — except those that are specifically hidden — are selected.
Selecting Track Material
361
To create a selection that extends farther than the width of your computer
screen, click the start point, scroll to the end point, and then Shift-click the
point. You can toggle back and forth from the start and end points by pressing
the left or right arrow keys, respectively.
Figure 2-3:
Drag within
a track’s
playlist to
select part
of that
region.
Figure 2-4:
You can
make
selections in
all tracks by
dragging
along the
Timeline
ruler.
Book IV
Chapter 2
Selecting Material
to Edit
Figure 2-5:
Enter Start
and End
values to
select a
section of a
region.
362
Selecting Track Material
Selecting across multiple tracks
You can select more than one track to edit in Pro Tools in several ways:
✦ Drag across the tracks you want with the Selector tool. (Click the
Selector tool button at the top of the Edit window to, well, select it.) This
only works if the tracks you want to include are adjacent to one another.
✦ Group the tracks you want to select and click-drag on one of the
tracks within that group. Any hidden tracks in the group will not be
selected. (For more on groups and grouping, see Book III, Chapter 4.)
✦ Drag along the Timeline ruler to select all the tracks.
✦ To select all the tracks along with any conductor tracks (those dealing
with Meter and Tempo changes), press Option (Mac) or Alt (PC) while
dragging along the Timeline ruler.
Selecting an entire region
You can select an entire region one of two ways:
✦ Click in that region with the Grabber tool.
To enable it, click the Grabber tool button located at the top of the Edit
window.
✦ Double-click the region with the Selector tool.
To enable it, click the Selector Tool button located at the top of the Edit
window.
Selecting two regions and any space between them
To select two or more regions and include any space that separates them,
follow these steps:
1. Select the Grabber tool by clicking the Grabber tool button at the top
of the Edit window.
2. Click in the first region with the Grabber tool.
3. Shift-click the next region.
To add more regions, Shift-click each one you want until you have them
all chosen.
All regions selected become highlighted, along with any spaces that
exist between them.
Selecting Track Material
363
Selecting an entire track
You can select all the regions in a track one of two ways:
✦ Triple-click one of the regions in the track.
✦ Click in the track with the Selector tool and then choose Edit➪Select All
from the main menu or press Ô+A (Mac) or Ctrl+A (PC).
Call up the Selector tool by clicking the Selector button located at the top of
the Edit window.
Selecting all regions in all tracks
You can select all regions located in the tracks of your session (except the
hidden ones) in any of four ways:
✦ Choose All from the Edit Groups list drop-down menu. This menu is
accessed by clicking and holding the Edit Groups title in the Edit Group
List section of the Edit window. If the Edit Group List isn’t visible, click
the double arrow at the bottom-left corner of the Edit window.
✦ Triple-click any region within a track in the playlist section of the Edit
window.
✦ Press Return and then Ô+A (Mac) or press Enter and then Ctrl+A (PC)
on your keyboard.
✦ Double-click anywhere along the Timeline ruler (the session’s timeline).
If you want to include the conductor events in your selection (tempo or meter
changes) of all regions in the tracks, make sure that you have the Edit and
Timeline Selection Linked option chosen and then press Option (Mac) or Ctrl
(PC) while you double-click the Timeline ruler.
Selecting on the fly
You can make selections while your session is playing by using the arrow
keys. Follow these steps:
Link Edit and Timeline Selection Linked from the main menu.
Alternatively, you can engage the Link Timeline and Edit Selection
button at the upper right of the Edit window.
2. Click the track somewhere before the place you want to start your
selection.
This is where the session will start playing back. If you want a select a
point near the beginning of the session, you can skip this step and just
start playing from the beginning.
Selecting Material
to Edit
1. Engage the Link Timeline and Edit Selection button or choose Options➪
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Selecting Track Material
3. Click Play in the Transport window or press the spacebar on your
keyboard to start the session playing.
4. Press the down-arrow key (↓) on your keyboard when your playback
reaches the point where you want the selection to begin.
5. Press the up-arrow key ( ↑) when your playback reaches the point
where you want the selection to end.
6. Click Stop in the Transport window or press the spacebar on your
keyboard to stop the session.
To scroll back to the selection start point, press the left-arrow key (←); to
scroll to the selection end point, press the right-arrow key (→).
If you have either the Scroll After Playback or Page Scroll During Playback
options selected under Scroll Options in the Operations menu, these options
toggle off when you select on the fly. To reactivate one of them after you
make your selection, you need to scroll down the Operations menu and
check that option again (version 6.0 and later).
Selecting with the Selection Indicator fields
You can use the Selection Indicator fields to enter either the Start and End
points or the length of a selection. The following sections describe how to
do this.
Making a selection with the indicators
Here’s how to make a selection by using the indicators:
1. With the Selector tool, click in the track you want to select.
Choose the Selector tool by clicking the Selector tool button at the top
of the Edit window.
2. Click in the Start field, type in the start point that you want, and then
press Return/Enter.
3. Click in the End field, type in the location of the end of the selection,
and then press Return/Enter.
You can also enter the length of the selection after entering the start point.
The end point is automatically entered in the End field.
Making Changes to Your Selection
365
Changing a selection using the indicators
Here’s how to change the values in any of the indicator fields without typing
in a value:
✦ Press the slash (/) key on your keyboard to move from one selection
indicator to the next.
✦ Press the period (.) key or the left-arrow (←) and right-arrow (→) keys
to move from one time field in an indicator to the next.
✦ Press the up-arrow key (↑) to increase the value in the field or the downarrow key (↓) to decrease it.
Making a selection with the Tab
to Transients function
Transients are the initial attack in an instrument. In Pro Tools, you can move
from one transient in a region to another by using the Tab to Transients
button and then pressing the Tab key. To use this function to choose Start
and End points for a selection, do the following:
1. Click the Tab to Transients button.
The button here in the margin shows you what to look for.
2. Make sure that you have the Edit and Timeline Selection Linked
option enabled by selecting Options➪Link Timeline and Edit Selection
or by clicking the Link Timeline and Edit Selection button.
3. With the Selector tool, click in the audio track somewhere before the
start point of the area you want to select.
4. Press the Tab key on your keyboard repeatedly to move from transient
to transient until you get to the start point.
If you go too far, you can back up by pressing Option (Mac) or Ctrl (PC)
when you press Tab.
5. Press the Shift key while you tab through the transients to the end
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Chapter 2
point.
Making Changes to Your Selection
Try as you might, after you make a selection on one of your tracks, you might
find that your selection just doesn’t cut it. Maybe you end up with too much
or too little material at the beginning or end of the selection. Or you decide
that you want to move the entire selection over in time to encompass
Selecting Material
to Edit
Again, if you go too far, you can back up the end point by pressing
Shift+Option+Tab (Mac) or Shift+Ctrl+Tab (PC).
366
Making Changes to Your Selection
different material. Perhaps you decide that you want to include other tracks
in the selection. You also might want to change the track onto which you
made your selection. Luckily, you don’t have to start over selecting material
to do this. You can make these adjustments to a selection quickly and easily
in Pro Tools. This section describes these ways to change what you selected.
Changing a selection’s length
After you make a selection, if you want to change its start or end point (say,
skip the first two bars of your selection), you can do so by doing one of the
following:
✦ With the Selector tool, Shift-click at the point you want outside the current
selection.
✦ With the Selector tool, Shift-drag either the start or end point to where
you want it.
✦ Drag the Playback marker (or Edit marker if the Edit and Timeline selections
are unlinked) for the start or end point in the Timeline ruler (the section
in the Edit window with the time markers located above the track playlists).
✦ Type in the new start or end point value in the Start or End field of the
Expanded section of the Transport window and then press Return/Enter.
Nudging selections
Sometimes, you want to move a selection very slightly forward or back in
the Timeline to make sure you cover the exact material you want to edit. Pro
Tools lets you use the Nudge function to move either your entire selection or
just its start or end point so you can fine-tune your selections.
Nudging the entire selection
You can move a selection by the increments set up in your Nudge Value
menu so that you can move across the material without actually moving that
material itself. (The latter move is done after you finish making a selection;
see Chapter 3 of this mini-book.) Follow these steps:
1. Make your selection using one of the procedures listed earlier in this
chapter.
2. Click and hold on the Nudge Value drop-down menu, located next to
Nudge below the Counter section of the Edit window.
The Nudge Value menu pops up.
Making Changes to Your Selection
367
3. Select the desired value for your nudge in the drop-down menu, as
shown in Figure 2-6.
For more on using the Nudge feature, go to the next chapter (Chapter 3
of this mini-book).
4. Press the Shift key along with either the + key or – key.
Doing so “nudges” your selection to the right or left, respectively, by the
designated nudge value.
If you have the Commands Keyboard focus function enabled by depressing
the Command Focus button, you can skip pressing the Shift key while you
use the + or – keys.
Figure 2-6:
Select the
nudge value
in the
Nudge
Value dropdown menu.
Nudging the start point
Follow these steps to move the start point of a selection by the nudge value:
1. Make your selection using one of the procedures listed earlier in this
chapter.
2. Click and hold the Nudge Value drop-down menu, located next to
Nudge below the Counter section of the Edit window.
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The Nudge Value menu pops up. (Refer to Figure 2-6.)
For more on using the Nudge feature, check out Book IV, Chapter 3.
4. Press Option+Shift (Mac) or Alt+Shift (PC), and then press the + or –
key on your keyboard to “nudge” the Start point to the right or left,
respectively, by the designated nudge value.
Selecting Material
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3. Select the desired value for your nudge in the drop-down menu.
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Making Changes to Your Selection
Nudging the end point
To nudge the end point of a selection, follow these steps:
1. Make your selection using one of the procedures listed earlier in this
chapter.
2. Click and hold the Nudge Value drop-down menu, located next to
Nudge below the Counter section of the Edit window.
The Nudge Value menu pops up. (Refer to Figure 2-6.)
3. Select the desired value for your nudge in the drop-down menu.
For more on using the Nudge feature, go to Book IV, Chapter 3.
4. Press Ô+Shift (Mac) or Ctrl+Shift (PC)and press the + or – key on your
keyboard to move the end point the designated nudge value to the
right or left, respectively.
Extending selection lengths
Sometimes, the best way to get all the material in your selection is to redefine
its boundaries. Pro Tools offers you three ways to extend your selection: to
the start or end point of the selected region, to include an adjacent region, or
to markers (memory locations). These options are covered in the following
sections.
Extending to the start or end point of a selected region
Follow these steps to extend your selection to the start or end point of the
region:
1. Select a portion of the region by using the Selector tool, or simply
click anywhere in that region.
Choose the Selector tool by clicking the Selector button at the top of the
Edit window.
2. Press Shift+Tab to extend the selection to the end of the region or
press Shift+Option+Tab (Mac) or Shift+Ctrl+Tab (PC) to extend your
selection to the start of the region.
Extending a selection to an adjacent region
Use the following steps to extend a selection to include an adjacent region:
1. With the Grabber tool, click the first region to select it.
2. Press Shift+Control+Tab (Mac) or Shift+Windows+Tab (PC) to include
the following region. Or, press Shift+Control+Option+Tab (Mac) or
Shift+Windows+Ctrl+Tab (PC) to include the previous region.
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369
Extending a selection to a memory location (marker)
Memory locations (markers) are flags you can place within the session to make
navigating your session faster. I usually make a habit of putting a marker at the
beginning of each verse and chorus to help me find them quickly. To extend a
selection to a marker or memory location, follow these steps:
1. Click the start or end point in a track or make a selection in one of the
ways listed earlier in this chapter.
2. Shift-click a marker in the Markers ruler (located above the track
playlist section of the Edit window) or a memory location in the
Memory Locations window.
The Memory Locations window is opened by clicking any of the markers
in your session or by clicking the Marker icon at the left of the Markers
ruler.
Moving and extending selections between tracks
You can take a selection on a track and extend it to include other tracks, or
you can even move the selection to another track. For example, this is handy
if you select the snare drum and then decide that you want to include the
rest of the drum tracks in your edit. Another example is selecting one rhythm
guitar track but deciding that you want to edit another rhythm guitar track
instead. The following sections cover these options.
Moving a selection to another track
After you make a selection, if you decide that you’d rather edit a different track
instead — while still using the same start and end points as the selection you
already made — you can move the selection from one track to another. This
process is done by following these steps:
1. Click the Commands Focus button, as seen here in the margin, to
enable the Commands Focus function.
2. Make a selection, using one of the procedures listed earlier in this
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(semicolon) to move the selection to the following (below) track.
Selecting Material
to Edit
3. Press P to move the selection to the previous (above) track, or press ;
370
Managing Memory Locations
Extending a selection to an adjacent track
To include adjacent tracks in your selection — as in the case of adding drum
tracks to a selection you made on the snare drum track — you can do this by
following these steps:
1. Click the Commands Focus button to enable the Commands Focus
function.
2. Make a selection in a track in one of the ways listed earlier in this
chapter.
3. Press Shift+P to include the previous (above) track, or press Shift+;
(semicolon) to include the following (below) track.
Figure 2-7 shows what happens when you extend a selection to include
an adjacent track.
If you got overzealous in extending your selection to adjacent tracks, you
can remove the bottom track from this group by pressing Control+Option+;
(semicolon; Mac) or Windows+Alt+; (semicolon; PC).
Figure 2-7:
Pressing
Shift+;
(semicolon)
includes the
adjacent
track in a
selection.
Managing Memory Locations
Memory locations let you quickly move from one position in a session to
another with the click of a button. You can have up to 200 memory markers
in each session.
Managing Memory Locations
371
Dealing with the New Memory Location dialog box
Whenever you create a memory location, a dialog box opens (as shown in
Figure 2-8), where you choose the parameters of the marker. This box
contains two sections: Time Properties and General Properties.
Figure 2-8:
The New
Memory
Location
dialog box
lets you
define the
location’s
properties.
Setting time properties
In the Time Properties section of the New Memory Location dialog box, you
can choose from three options — Marker, Selection, and None — as well as
whether you want the reference in bar/beat (the location in your session
related to measures) or absolute time (the location in your session related to
the clock in minutes and seconds from the start of the session).
The following list fills you in on what each of the three options here means:
Figure 2-9:
Marker
memory
locations.
Selecting Material
to Edit
✦ Marker: This option marks a specific location and is designated by a
yellow icon in the Markers ruler — the ruler located at the top of the
playlist section of the Edit window. If you set the reference for the location marker to Bar/Beat, the icon is a chevron (Figure 2-9, left). If you set
the reference to Absolute, it appears as a diamond (Figure 2-9, right).
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✦ Selection: Using this option marks a selected range within a track or
multiple tracks.
✦ None: This type of memory location is called a General Properties memory
location. It actually doesn’t contain any time-based information; rather, it
memorizes just the selections from the General Properties section of the
dialog box. (See the next section for more on the General Properties area.)
This is a good option if you just want to remember a zoom or pre- and
post-roll setting for part of the session.
Choosing general properties
In the General Properties section of the Memory Location dialog box (refer
to Figure 2-8), you can set preferences for the information that you store
with the memory location. These include
✦ Number: This is the marker number for your session. You can renumber
any memory location by clicking in the field and typing the number you
want for the location.
✦ Name: You can enter a name in this field to help you remember what the
memory location is for.
✦ Zoom Settings: Use this option to store the horizontal and vertical zoom
settings for the tracks.
✦ Pre/Post Roll Times: This option, which stores the pre- and post-roll
times, is handy when using the Selection memory location for setting
record ranges.
✦ Track Show/Hide: This setting allows you to store track layouts in your
session (as far as them being shown or hidden, anyway).
✦ Track Heights: This option lets you store the height of tracks in your
session.
✦ Group Enables: This setting stores both Edit and Mix groups for easy
recall of them when mixing or editing.
✦ Window Configuration: This drop-down menu lets you choose one of your
saved window configurations. You can find out more about configuring
windows in Book II, Chapter 4.
✦ Comments: You can enter any comments or reminder in this section.
This is handy for remembering what the marker is marking.
Creating memory locations
You create memory locations differently depending on the type — Marker,
Selection, None — that you want. The following sections detail those ways.
Managing Memory Locations
373
Marker memory locations
Creating a Marker memory location requires these steps:
1. Get all your Settings ducks in a row for your session so that the session
is set up the way you want it to be.
Settings here can include zoom settings, track heights, or any of the
setting options listed in the previous section, “Dealing with the New
Memory Location dialog box.”
2. Link your Edit and Timeline selections by clicking the Link Timeline
and Edit Selection button, pressing Shift+/, or choosing Options➪Link
Timeline and Edit Selection from the main menu.
The Link Timeline and Edit Selection button is shown here in the margin.
3. Open the Markers Ruler (if it’s not already displayed) by choosing
View➪Ruler Markers from the main menu.
The Markers ruler appears just above the playlist section of the Edit
window.
4. Press Control (Mac) or Windows (PC) and position your cursor where
you want the memory location in the Markers ruler. When the cursor
changes to a Grabber tool with a +, go ahead and click.
or
Choose the Selector tool by clicking the Selector button at the top of
the Edit window.
5. Click within any track where you want the memory location to go.
6. Click the Marker button located at the far left of the Memory Location
ruler next to the Marker title.
The New Memory Location Dialog box opens. (Refer to Figure 2-8.)
7. Select the Marker option and then use the Reference drop-down menu
to choose whether you want the marker reference in bars/beats or
absolute time, depending on whether you prefer to work referencing
measures or the time from the start of the session.
boxes in the General Properties section that you want to include in
the marker.
9. Click OK.
A Marker icon appears at the location you specify in Step 4.
Selecting Material
to Edit
8. Enter a name for the marker in the Name field and select the check
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Selection memory locations
If you have a section of the session that you think you want to go back to —
such as with a drum edit — you can store that selection by creating a
Selection memory location. To create a Selection memory location, follow
these steps:
1. Configure your session with the settings you want to save.
2. Select a section of a track or tracks that you want to memorize.
For more on how to select stuff, see the “Selecting Track Material”
section, earlier in the chapter.
3. Press Enter on the number pad section of your keyboard.
The New Memory Location dialog box opens. (Refer to Figure 2-8.)
4. Choose the Selection option and then use the Reference drop-down
menu to choose whether you want to use the bars/beats or absolute
time reference option.
5. Enter a name for the location and select any of the options in the
General Properties section of the dialog box.
6. Click OK.
The memory location appears in the Memory Locations window (opened
by choosing Window➪Memory Locations from the main menu). This
window shows all the memory locations for your session.
To recall this memory location, simply click it in the Memory Locations
window.
General Properties memory location
If you just want to store a zoom or pre-roll setting (or any other of the General
Properties parameters) for your session, you can do so by creating a
General Properties memory location. To create this type of memory
location, follow these steps:
1. Configure your session to the settings that you want to save.
2. Press Enter on the number pad section of your keyboard.
The New Memory Location dialog box opens. (Refer to Figure 2-8.)
3. Select None.
4. Enter a name and select the parameters you want to save from the list
in the General Properties section.
Managing Memory Locations
375
5. Click OK.
The location is stored and appears in the Memory Locations window.
This window shows all the memory locations for your session and is
opened by choosing Window➪Memory Locations from the main menu.
To recall this memory location, simply click it in the Memory Locations
window.
Creating Marker memory locations on the fly
You can create memory locations while the session plays. You can create
any type of memory location — Marker, Selection, or General Properties
(none) — on the fly, but the most common are Marker memory locations.
This “on-the-fly” business can be handy for marking the sections of your
song or locations where you want to go back to make edits. Follow these
steps to create Marker memory locations on the fly:
1. Enable the Auto-Name Memory Locations When Playing option on the
Editing tab of the Preferences dialog box.
Note: To get to the Preferences dialog box, choose Setup➪Preferences
from the main menu.
2. Choose Window➪Memory Locations from the main menu, as shown in
Figure 2-10.
The Memory Locations window appears. (See Figure 2-11.)
Note: You can also call up this window by pressing Ô+5 (Mac) or
Ctrl+5 (PC).
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Figure 2-10:
The
Memory
Locations
option in the
Window
menu.
376
Managing Memory Locations
Figure 2-11:
The
Memory
Locations
window.
Click here to see the window’s
drop-down menu.
3. In the Memory Locations window, click the Name button and then
choose the Default to Marker and the Auto-Name Memory Location
options from the drop-down menu that appears.
If you don’t choose this option, the new memory locations created on
the fly are of the same type as the last one made.
4. Set your session’s time scale to bars:beats if you want the memory
locations to reference bars/beats.
Use the arrow to the right of the Main Counter display located at the top
of the Edit window to make this selection.
5. Play your session by clicking Play in the Transport window or by
pressing the spacebar on your keyboard.
6. Press Enter on the number pad of your keyboard when you want to
place a marker.
Getting to know the Memory Locations window
After you create a memory location, it appears in the Memory Locations
window, as shown in Figure 2-11. (You access this window by choosing
Window➪Memory Locations from the main menu.) You can recall, view, and
edit your stored memory locations by using the window’s drop-down menu, as
shown in Figure 2-12. (You call up the window’s drop-down menu by clicking
the button next to the word Name in the Memory Locations window.)
Figure 2-12:
Click Name
in Memory
Locations to
call up this
menu.
Managing Memory Locations
377
Your choices on the drop-down menu for the Memory Locations window are
as follows:
✦ View Filter: By selecting this option, a series of icons appears in the
window, which let you hide or show memory locations by their properties.
The icons in this selection are (from left to right in Figure 2-13):
• Marker
• Selection Memory Location
• Zoom Settings
• Pre- Post-Roll
• Show/Hide Track
• Track Heights
• Group Enables
Descriptions of these properties can be found in the “Dealing with the
New Memory Location dialog box” section, earlier in this chapter.
Figure 2-13:
Showing the
View Filter
icons.
✦ Show Main Counter: Selecting this option opens a column in the window
that list the main time scale for Selection memory locations as well as the
locations for Marker memory locations, as shown in Figure 2-14. General
Properties memory locations have nothing listed in these columns.
✦ Show Comments: Here, you can see any notes about the memory location
that you entered when in the Comments section of the New Memory
Locations dialog box. You can also add some comments by double-clicking
the location in this dialog box. Double-clicking opens the New Memory
Location dialog box, where you can make any changes you want.
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✦ Show Sub Counter: Selecting this option opens two columns in the
window that list the secondary (sub) time scales for Selection memory
locations as well as the locations for Marker memory locations, as shown
in Figure 2-14. General Properties memory locations have nothing listed
in these columns.
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Managing Memory Locations
Figure 2-14:
Enabling the
Show Main
Counter
option
expands the
Memory
Locations
window to
include
these
counters.
✦ Sort by Time: By selecting this option, you sort your Marker memory
locations by their Timeline positions in the session, followed by the
Selection and General Properties locations in the order they were created.
When this option isn’t selected, memory locations are listed according to
their assigned numbers (the order in which they were created).
✦ New Memory Location: Choose this option if you want to add a new
location.
✦ Edit Memory Location: Selecting this option opens the New Memory
Location dialog box, where you can make changes to any of the settings.
✦ Clear Memory Location: Choosing this option deletes the selected
memory location from the list.
✦ Delete All: This option removes all the memory locations in the session.
✦ Insert Slot: This option creates a new memory location before this
memory location in the list and renumbers all the following locations.
✦ Delete Slot: This option deletes the selected memory location and
moves the rest of the memory location in the list up and renumbers
them.
✦ Default to Marker: Choosing this option makes any memory locations
that you create on the fly (see previous section) Marker memory
locations.
✦ Auto-Name Memory Location: Choosing this option automatically names
memory locations created on the fly and keeps the New Memory Location
dialog box from opening when you create on the fly. These names are
consecutively numbered, but you can change the name later. To change
the name, simply click the marker in the Markers ruler in the Edit window;
when the New Memory Location dialog box opens, enter a new name in
the Name field.
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379
Recalling memory locations
You can recall memory locations from the Memory Locations window. Choose
Window➪Memory Locations from the main menu to call the window up, or
press Ô+5 (Mac) or Ctrl+5 (PC). Marker memory locations can also be
recalled by clicking the Marker icon in the Markers ruler located directly
above the track playlist section of the Edit window.
Recalling from the Memory Locations window
Follow these steps to recall a memory location from the Memory Locations
window:
1. Open the Memory Locations window by choosing Window➪Memory
Locations from the main menu or by pressing Ô+5 (Mac) or Ctrl+5 (PC).
Refer to Figure 2-11 for a peek at what this window looks like.
2. If your Link Timeline and Edit Selections option isn’t enabled and you
want to recall a Selection memory location, click the Link Timeline
and Edit Selection button to enable the option.
3. Click the memory location you want in the Memory Locations window
to recall it.
or
Press the memory location number followed by a period (.) if you
have the Numeric Keypad mode set to Classic mode. If your numeric
keypad is set to Transport mode, press period (.) followed by the
memory location number followed by another period (.).
To select your Numeric Keypad Mode options, first choose Setup➪
Preferences from the main menu. After the Preferences dialog box appears,
click the Operations tab and then select the appropriate mode check boxes.
Recalling markers from the Markers ruler
1. Display the Markers ruler in the session by choosing
View➪Rulers➪Markers from the main menu.
This ruler appears directly above the track playlist section of the Edit
window.
2. Click the marker.
The General Properties settings stored in the marker are instantly
recalled.
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You can recall a Marker memory location in the Markers ruler by following
these steps:
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Managing Memory Locations
Editing memory locations
You can perform quite a few editing functions on your various memory locations
including renaming them, deleting them, editing their properties, copying them,
and pasting them. These functions are detailed in the following sections.
Renaming a memory location
To rename a memory location, follow these steps:
1. Double-click the memory location in the Memory Locations window
or Markers ruler.
The Edit Memory Location dialog box makes an appearance. (Refer to
Figure 2-8.)
2. Enter the new name in the Name field.
3. Click OK.
Changing a memory location’s properties
You can change the properties of a stored memory location a number of
different ways, depending on the change you want to make. This section
details changing general properties, location types, and selection ranges.
First off, you can redefine General Properties settings by using these steps:
1. Set up your new General Properties settings (zoom, track height, and
so on).
2. Open the Memory Location window by pressing Ô+5 (Mac) or Ctrl+5
(PC) or by choosing Window➪Memory Location from the main menu.
3. Control-click (Mac) or right-click (PC) the memory location in the
Memory Location window.
You can also Control-click (Mac) or right-click (PC) the Marker icon in
the Markers ruler if you want to redefine a Marker memory location.
The Edit Memory Location dialog box opens.
4. Enter the General Properties you want to include in this marker;
optionally, enter a new name.
This only stores the settings you have in your session; it doesn’t create
them. You need to make sure that your screen is the way you want it
before saving the settings.
5. Click OK.
You can change your memory location type — Marker, Selection, None — by
doing the following:
Managing Memory Locations
381
1. Open the Memory Location window by pressing Ô+5 (Mac) or Ctrl+5
(PC) or by choosing Window➪Memory Location from the main menu.
2. Double-click the name of the memory location (in the Memory Location
window) or the Marker memory location (in the Markers ruler).
The Edit Memory Location dialog box opens.
3. Select Marker, Selection, or None; optionally, enter a new name.
4. Click OK.
You can change the selection range of a Selection location by following these
steps:
1. Open the Memory Locations window by choosing Window➪Memory
Locations from the main menu or by pressing Ô+5 (Mac) or Ctrl+5 (PC).
2. Select a range of material within your session.
For more on how to select stuff, see the “Selecting Track Material” section, earlier in the chapter.
3. Control-click (Mac) or right-click (PC) on the name of the Selection
memory location you want to change in the Memory Locations
window.
The Edit Memory Location dialog box opens.
4. (Optional) Enter a new name for the Selection memory location in the
Name field of the Memory Location dialog box.
5. Click OK.
Your new selection is saved with the Selection memory location.
You can move a Marker memory location one of these ways:
✦ Drag a marker by grabbing the icon in the Markers ruler and dragging
it to its new location.
✦ Align a marker by clicking with the Selector tool on the new location
along the Timebase ruler or within a track’s playlist and then Controlclicking (Mac) or right-clicking (PC) the name of the marker location
in the Memory Locations window.
✦ Align the marker to the start of a region by selecting the region with
the Grabber tool, and then Control-clicking (Mac) or right-clicking
(PC) the name of the marker location in the Memory Locations window.
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The Markers ruler is located just above the track playlist section of the
Edit window. If it’s not visible, select View➪Rulers➪Markers from the
main menu.
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Playing Selected Material
Copying and pasting memory locations
You can copy single or multiple markers in a session by following these
steps:
1. Choose the Selector tool by clicking the Selector Tool button at the top
of the Edit window.
2. Drag along the Markers ruler to select the portion of the session that
contains the markers you want to copy. To select all the markers in
the session, double-click anywhere in the Markers ruler.
If the beginning of your selection includes a marker, press Ô (Mac) or
Ctrl (PC) for the Selector tool to appear because it will automatically disappear when your cursor is located directly over an existing marker.
3. Choose Edit➪Copy from the main menu or press Ô+C (Mac) or Ctrl+C
(PC) to copy the selection onto the Clipboard.
If you want to paste the selection somewhere else in the session, follow
these steps:
1. Place your cursor along the Markers ruler where you want to paste
the markers.
2. Press Ô+V (Mac) or Ctrl+V (PC) or choose Edit➪Paste from the main
menu.
Playing Selected Material
After you make a selection, you’re free to give it a listen. The following
sections cover a variety of ways of doing this.
Playing your selection
To play your selection, simply click the Play button in the Transport window
or press the spacebar on your keyboard. All the tracks in the session will
play during the selected range. If you want to hear only the track(s) in which
you made your selection, you have one of two choices:
✦ Hide or mute the tracks you don’t want to hear.
✦ Solo the track(s) you do want to hear.
Using pre- and post-rolls
You can set Pro Tools to play a designated length of time before and after
your selection by using pre- and post-rolls. The following sections show you
how to set your pre-rolls and post-rolls as well as how to audition them.
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383
Setting and enabling pre- and post-rolls
To set pre- and post-rolls, do the following:
1. Choose View➪Transport➪Expanded from the main menu.
The Pre- and Post-Roll fields appear in the window.
2. Click in the Pre- or Post-Roll field in the Transport window, type in a
number, and then press Return/Enter.
3. Press Ô+K (Mac) or Ctrl+K (PC) or choose Options➪Pre/Post-roll from
the main menu to enable the Pre- and Post-Roll feature.
Auditioning pre- and post-rolls
If you just want to hear the pre- or post-roll, you can audition them by doing
the following:
✦ To audition the pre-roll: Press Option+← (Mac) or Alt+← (PC). The
pre-roll plays to the start of the selection or to the position of the cursor
in the selected region.
✦ To audition the post-roll: Press Ô+→ (Mac) or Ctrl+→ (PC). The postroll plays from its beginning or from the current cursor location.
Auditioning start and end points
When you audition start and end points, you get to listen to just the beginning or end of a selection without having to listen to the whole thing. This
kind of auditioning is done in the following ways.
Auditioning the start point
You can audition the start point of a selection either with or without listening
to the pre-roll along with it. Both options are covered in this section.
✦ To audition the start point of a selection along with the pre-roll: Press
Ô+Option+← (Mac) or Ctrl+Alt+← (PC). The pre-roll plays along with the
length of the selection, as designated in the Post-Roll field of the Transport
window as long as you have the Pre/Post-roll Playback function enabled.
(Choose Options➪Pre/Post-roll from the main menu.)
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✦ To audition just the start point of a selection: Press Ô+← (Mac) or
Ctrl+← (PC). The selection plays for the length of time designated in the
Post-Roll field of the Transport window.
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Playing Selected Material
Auditioning the end point
Pro Tools lets you audition the end point of your selection, either with or
without hearing the post-roll too. Here’s how to use these options:
✦ To audition just the end point of a selection: Press Option+→ (Mac) or
Alt+→ (PC). The selection starts at the point equal to the pre-roll
amount from the end of the selection.
✦ To audition the end point of a selection along with the post-roll: Press
Ô+Option+→ (Mac) or Ctrl+Alt+→ (PC). The selection starts at the point
equal to the pre-roll amount from the end of the selection and continue
until the end of the post-roll.
Looping your selection’s playback
If you have a section of the song that you want to listen to repeatedly (say, if
you’re trying to find a chair squeak to edit), you can loop a selection with
the Loop command. This enables you to create looped sections and to make
sure that your start and end points play seamlessly. Follow these steps to
loop a selection:
1. Engage the Link Timeline and Edit Selection option by choosing
Options➪Link Timeline and Edit Selection from the main menu or by
clicking the Link Timeline and Edit Selection button.
2. Make a selection by using one of the techniques listed in the “Selecting
Track Material” section, earlier in this chapter.
3. Choose Options➪Loop Playback from the main menu, or Control-click
(Mac) or right-click (PC) the Play button in the Transport window.
4. Click Play in the Transport window or press the spacebar on your
keyboard.
If you have the pre-roll engaged, playback will begin with it; otherwise, it
starts at the beginning of your selection. When the selection loops, the
pre-and post-rolls won’t play after the starting pre-roll (if you have the
function engaged).
5. Click Stop in the Transport window or press the spacebar on your
keyboard to stop playback.
Chapter 3: Getting into Editing
In This Chapter
Working with regions
Using Edit commands
Editing regions
Working with looped material
P
ro Tools offers you many options for editing the audio files in your
sessions, include cutting file segments, copying them, pasting them,
clearing them, basting them, and marinating them. (Okay, maybe not the
last two, but you get the point.) You can also edit by trimming segments,
moving them, aligning them, locking them, and so on.
In this chapter, you discover the many Edit commands of Pro Tools and you
begin to edit regions — the term for audio file segments — using the various
Edit functions that Pro Tools is famous for. I also fill you in on creating loops
you can use to build your song (if that’s the way you want to work).
Editing Regions
Regions are the defined areas of the track in which you do your editing. Each
audio file is represented in your session by a region (or series of regions). A
region can be the entire file, or it can be bits and pieces of a file. When you
edit in Pro Tools, you’re not actually making any changes to the audio file.
(Later in this chapter, I explain some exceptions to this.) Instead, you make
changes to the way Pro Tools plays those files by editing the regions that
represent the file.
For example, if you decide that a track really does sound better without that
accordion solo and you cut that section of the region containing that part, the
section isn’t really erased from your hard drive: It’s simply not played back
when you listen to your session. This allows you to make a stunning variety of
edits without having to worry about ruining your original audio file.
Being able to create, capture, separate, trim, and heal regions is essential
to being able to edit in Pro Tools. I explain these procedures in the following
sections.
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Creating regions
Whenever you record or import an audio file in Pro Tools, you create a
region of that entire file. You can edit that region. However, after you cut,
separate, paste, or perform any other edit to it, you’re creating new regions
from the original file. You have several ways to create new regions with
which to work, including capturing selections, separating selections, and
trimming to a selection. These are all covered in the following sections.
When you create a new region, it appears in the track’s playlist — the area
next to the Track Controls section of the Edit window that contains the
visual representations of the audio files (regions) — as well as in the Audio
Regions list, located on the right side of the Edit and the Mix windows.
Using the Capture Region command
Use the Capture Region command to create a new region within an existing
one. The new region is still part of the original region, but it has its own
name. If you want to create a region that can be moved around separately
from the original, use the Separate Regions command, as detailed in the next
section. To use the Capture Region command, follow these steps:
1. Choose the Selector tool from the top of the Edit window.
2. Click and drag the track’s region in the playlist section of the Edit
window where you want to create a new region.
3. Choose Region➪Capture from the main menu or press Ô+R (Mac) or
Ctrl+R (PC).
4. In the Name Region dialog box that appears, enter the name of this
region and then click OK.
The new region is created, and the region’s name appears in the Audio
Regions list menu in the track’s playlist.
Employing the Separate Regions command
If you want to create a region that can be moved around separately from the
original, use the Separate Regions command. Here’s how it’s done:
1. Choose the Selector tool from the top of the Edit window.
2. Click and drag on the track’s region in the track’s playlist where you
want to create a new region.
To select more than one track, drag across the desired tracks.
3. Choose Edit➪Separate Region from the main menu or press Ô+E
(Mac) or Ctrl+E (PC).
Here, you have three options of where to create the region:
Editing Regions
387
• At Selection: Choose At Selection to create a new region with boundaries
at the selection start and end points.
• On Grid: Choose On Grid to create a region according to the current
grid resolution.
• At Transients: Chose At Transients to automatically create region
boundaries on detected transients within a selection. The program
does this with the same method as when you employ the Tab to
Transients feature.
4. In the Name Region dialog box that appears, enter the name of this
region and then click OK.
The new region is created, and its name appears in the Audio Regions
list menu. You can now move, copy, cut, or otherwise edit this region.
If you don’t want to have to type in a name for this new region, you can use
the Pro Tools Auto-Name feature, which automatically gives your new regions
such exciting names as Audio 2_02. To activate this feature, choose Setup➪
Preferences from the main menu, click the Editing tab in the Preferences dialog
box when it appears, and then select the Auto-Name Separated Regions
check box on that tab.
If you have a bunch of takes that you recorded in succession (when you
loop-record, for example) and you want to separate them all at the same
place, select the Separate Region Operates on All Related Takes check box
on the Editing tab of the Preferences dialog box. (Choose Setup➪Preferences
from the main menu to get to the Preference dialog box.) If you do this, make
sure that both the Take Region Names That Match Track Names and Take
Regions Lengths That Match options are also selected on the second Editing
tab of Preferences dialog box.
Using the Separation Grabber tool
Figure 3-1:
Toggle the
Grabber and
Separation
Grabber
tools.
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Chapter 3
Getting into Editing
If you want to separate and move a region in one step, you can use the
Separation Grabber tool, located in the Edit Tools section of the Edit window.
You can toggle between the Grabber tool and the Separation Grabber tool by
clicking and holding the Grabber button and choosing the Separation option
from the pop-up menu that appears, as shown in Figure 3-1.
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Editing Regions
To use the Separation Grabber tool, follow these steps:
1. With the Selector tool, drag over the part of the region you want to
separate in the playlist section of the Edit window.
This selection can be across multiple tracks or regions within a single track.
2. Click and hold the Grabber tool and choose the Separation option
from the pop-up menu that appears.
3. Click the selection you made in Step 1 and drag the selection to where
you want.
Pro Tools automatically creates three new regions: the separated section
as well as the parts before and after this section. These three sections all
show up in the Audio Regions list menu.
If you want to leave the original region as it is and grab a section from it to
put somewhere else, press Option (Mac) or Alt (PC) when you drag the
selection with the Separation Grabber tool. The original region remains
intact, and your selection is simply copied and moved.
Trying the Trim to Selection command
Use the Trim to Selection command to choose a section of a region and
remove the unselected parts of that region. Follow these steps to trim
unwanted parts from a selection:
1. Choose the area you want to keep by selecting it in the track’s playlist
with the Selector tool.
2. Press Ô+T (Mac) or Ctrl+T (PC) or choose Edit➪Trim Region➪To
Selection from the main menu, as shown in Figure 3-2.
The unselected parts of the region disappear.
Healing regions
Use the Heal Separations command to recombine regions that you separated.
Here are some restrictions to this process:
✦ You can’t heal regions that come from different audio files.
✦ Your regions must be in the same places they were when you separated
them.
Editing Regions
389
Figure 3-2:
Use the Trim
to Selection
command to
get rid of
unselected
parts of a
region.
To heal two regions, follow these steps:
1. Using the Selector tool, select a portion of both regions along with the
spot to be healed, as shown in Figure 3-3.
2. Choose Edit➪Heal Separation from the main menu or press Ô+H
(Mac) or Ctrl+H (PC).
Your two regions become one again.
Figure 3-3:
Select the
area you
want to
heal.
Book IV
Chapter 3
✦ Find what’s hidden. This procedure expands the region to include
hidden material. In this case, the hidden material is the stuff from the
deleted region.
a. Choose Slip Edit mode (from the Edit mode options at the top-left portion
of the Edit window).
Getting into Editing
If the selection doesn’t heal (because one region has been moved, for
instance), you can use one of the following remedies:
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Editing Regions
b. Delete one of the two regions.
c. With the Trimmer tool, expand the existing region to its original size.
(See the “Trimming regions” section, later in this chapter, for more
on the Trimmer tool.)
✦ Delete both regions and drag the original region into the track from
the Audio Regions list. Chapter 1 in this mini-book has more on this
procedure.
Placing regions in tracks
All the regions for your session are located in the Audio Regions list; you can
use this list to drag a region (or regions) into any track.
Placing a region in a track
Follow these steps to place a region in a track:
1. Select the region you want to place in a track by highlighting it in the
Audio Regions list.
The Audio Regions list is located on the right side of the Edit and the
Mix windows.
2. Click the region’s name and drag it into the track where you want it.
Depending on the Edit mode that you select (from the options located at the
upper-left corner of the Edit window), your region is placed in one of several
possible ways:
✦ In Shuffle mode: Placing a region while in Shuffle mode slides existing
regions to make room for the one you’re placing. This places regions end
to end: They automatically touch one another.
✦ In Spot mode: Placing a region while in Spot mode opens a dialog box
where you can enter the position of the region you’re placing. This mode
allows you to place a region at a precise point.
✦ In Slip mode: Placing a region while in Slip mode lets you drag the
region anywhere you want within the track’s playlist, allowing you to
overlap another region or be separated from it.
✦ In Grid mode: Placing a region in Grid mode places the region to the
nearest grid boundary. Pro Tools lets you temporarily disable the grid
by pressing Ô (Mac) or Ctrl (PC) while you drag your selected region
into a track.
You can adjust the grid value for your session by opening the Grid Value
drop-down menu, as shown in Figure 3-4. (To open this menu, click and hold
the arrow to the right of the Grid title in the center of the Edit menu, right
below the Edit tools.)
Editing Regions
391
Figure 3-4:
Use the Grid
Value dropdown menu
to choose
the grid
value of
your
session.
Placing a region at the Edit Insert point
You can designate an Edit Insert point by clicking your cursor within a track
in the playlist section of the Edit window; you can then place your region
right at this point. You can have either the region’s start or end point snap to
the Edit Insert point.
To designate an Edit Insert point, start by locating your cursor at the place
in the track where you want the region placed, as shown in Figure 3-5. Then,
depending on where you want your region to end up, do one of the following:
✦ To place the start of a region at the Edit Insert point: Press Control
(Mac) or Windows (PC) while you drag the region from the Audio
Regions list to the track.
✦ If the region is already in the track and you want to move it: Press
Control (Mac) or Windows (PC) while dragging with the Grabber tool.
✦ To place the end of a region at the Edit Insert point: Press Ô+Control
(Mac) or Ctrl+ Windows (PC) while you drag the region from the Audio
Regions list to the track.
✦ If the region already resides in the track: Press Ô+Control (Mac) or
Ctrl+Windows (PC) while dragging with the Grabber tool.
Getting into Editing
Figure 3-5:
Click a
region to
identify the
Edit Insert
point.
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Editing Regions
Using region synch points
A synch point is a specific location in your session where you can have regions
align. This lets you place a specific point in the region (the synch point) precisely
where you want without regard to the placements of start or end points of that
region. You can assign a region synch point in Pro Tools anywhere within the
session. This feature is helpful when you want to place a sound at a precise
point in the session, like when you’re spotting (positioning) sound effects for
video. With a synch point, you first mark the location sound effect that you want
to place (breaking glass, for instance) in the region with this sound and then
place that region where you want the glass to start breaking in your session.
This makes it easy to spot that sound even when the sound doesn’t begin at the
start point of a region.
Creating a synch point
To define a region’s synch point, follow these steps:
1. With the Selector tool, click within a track where you want your synch
point to be.
2. Choose Region➪Identify Synch Point from the main menu, as shown
in Figure 3-6, or press Ô+, (comma; Mac) or Ctrl+, (comma; PC).
A small arrow appears at the bottom of the region, as shown in Figure 3-7,
to show you where you placed the synch point.
Figure 3-6:
Define a
synch point
from the Edit
menu.
You can remove the synch point by choosing Region➪Remove Synch Point
from the main menu.
Each region can have only one synch point at a time. To change the location
of this synch point, simply select a new place in the region and choose Region➪
Identify Synch Point again from the main menu. The old synch point is
removed, and a new one appears at the new location.
Editing Regions
393
Figure 3-7:
An arrow at
the bottom
shows
where the
synch
point is.
Placing a region’s synch point at an Edit Insert point
After you have a synch point defined, you can use it to place or align a region
within your track’s playlist. To place the synch point of the region to the Edit
Insert point in the track’s playlist, do the following:
1. With the Selector tool, click a point in the target region to define your
Edit Insert point.
2. Press Shift+Control (Mac) or Shift+ Windows (PC) while dragging the
region you want to insert — the one containing the synch point you
added, following the procedure outlined in the previous step list —
from the Audio Regions list into the track.
The region’s synch point snaps to the selected position in the track’s
playlist.
or
If the region with the synch point already resides within the track,
switch to the Grabber tool and then press Shift+Control (Mac) or Shift+
Windows (PC) while clicking the region.
The region’s synch point snaps to the selected position in the track’s
playlist.
Aligning regions
Aligning a start point of a region with the start point of a region on
another track
To align a start point of a region with the start point of a region on another
track, follow these steps:
1. With the Grabber tool, click the region in the playlist of the track you
want to align to.
Book IV
Chapter 3
Getting into Editing
Pro Tools lets you align the start, end, or synch point of regions to the start
point of another region. This can be helpful for arranging regions in songs to
get synchronized playback.
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Editing Regions
2. If the region you want to move already exists in the playlist of the
track from Step 1, press Control (Mac) or Windows (PC) and then click
the region you want to move.
The region automatically moves into position.
or
If the region you want to move resides in the Audio Regions list, press
Control (Mac) or Windows (PC) and then click and drag the region onto
the track’s playlist.
Both start points are aligned.
Aligning the end point of a region with the start point
of a region on a different track
To align the end point of a region with the start point of a region on a different track, follow these steps:
1. With the Grabber tool, click the region you want to align to in the
track’s playlist.
2. If the region you want to move is located in the playlist of the track
from Step 1, press Ô+Control (Mac) or Ctrl+ Windows (PC) and then
click the region.
The region automatically moves into position.
or
If this region isn’t already in the track’s playlist, press Ô+Control (Mac)
or Ctrl+ Windows (PC) and click and drag the region you want to move
from the Audio Regions list onto the playlist.
The end point of the region you moved is aligned to the start point of
the first region you chose.
Aligning a region’s synch point with the start point
of another track’s region
To align the synch point of a region with the start point of a region on a
different track, follow these steps:
1. With the Grabber tool, click the region you want to align to in the
track’s playlist.
Editing Regions
395
2. If the region you want to move is located in the playlist of the track
from Step 1, press Shift+Control (Mac) or Shift+Windows (PC) while
clicking with the Grabber tool on the region.
The region automatically moves into position.
or
If the region doesn’t already exist within the track’s playlist, you can
place and align a region from the Audio Regions list by pressing
Shift+Control (Mac) or Shift+Windows (PC) while clicking and dragging
the region from the Audio Regions list.
The synch point of the second region aligns to the start point of the first,
as shown in Figure 3-8.
Figure 3-8:
You can
align the
synch point
from one
region to the
start point of
another.
Trimming regions
You can trim regions by using the Trimmer tool, choosing Edit➪Trim Region
from the main menu, or nudging the start or end point of a region. The
Trimmer tool, as shown here in the margin, consists of two options: the
Standard Trimmer and the Time Trimmer. These trimming options are
detailed in the following sections.
Using the Standard Trimmer tool
To trim a region with the Standard Trimmer tool, first call up the tool by
clicking the Trimmer Tool button. Then do one of the following:
✦ Place the cursor near the start or end point of a region and drag the
region’s start or end point to shorten or lengthen, as shown in Figure 3-9.
Getting into Editing
Use the Standard Trimmer tool to shorten or lengthen (to the maximum length
of the parent audio file, anyway) a region without altering the original file.
Whenever you trim a region, a new region is created in the Audio Regions list.
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Editing Regions
✦ Place your cursor where you want to trim the region and click with
your mouse, as shown in Figure 3-10.
The region is trimmed to the start point or the end point, depending on
where you place the cursor. If the cursor is located closer to the start
point, you trim the start point; conversely, if the cursor is closer to the
end point, you trim the end point. You can reverse the default here by
pressing Option (Mac) or Alt (PC) while you trim.
Figure 3-9:
To trim or
expand a
region, drag
with the
Trimmer
tool.
Figure 3-10:
To trim a
region, click
the Trim
point with
the Trimmer
tool.
You can tell which way the trim is going to happen by the direction of the
cursor. Figure 3-11 shows the cursor as it is set to trim the start point (left)
and the end point (right).
Figure 3-11:
Trimming
the start
point (left)
or the end
point (right).
Editing Regions
397
The Trimmer tools (both the Standard Trimmer and the Time Trimmer)
behave differently depending on the Edit mode you’re using. Here’s a quick
rundown of the differences:
✦ Shuffle mode: In this mode, any adjacent regions slide over while you
expand or trim the region.
✦ Spot mode: In this mode, the Spot dialog box appears, prompting you to
type in the exact placement of the region’s start or end point.
✦ Grid mode: In this mode, any trimming or expanding that you do automatically snaps to the nearest grid boundary.
✦ Slip mode: In this mode, your region moves to wherever you place it.
Any other regions in the playlist remain where they are.
If you want to return the region to its original size, you can
✦ Drag the original region from the Audio Regions list to the track’s
playlist.
✦ Drag the start or end point of the region with the Trimmer tool to its
original length.
Tackling the Time Trimmer tool
Use the Time Trimmer tool, as shown here in the margin, to expand or compress a region by using the Time Compression/Expansion (TC/E) plug-in to
create a new audio file. Using the Time Trimmer is different from using the
Standard Trimmer: Instead of cutting off part of the file when you trim,
the Time Trimmer tool shortens how long the region takes to play.
When you use the Time Trimmer tool to expand or compress a region, it alters
the speed at which the region plays — and this alters how the material in the
region sounds. Compressing speeds up the region; expanding slows it down.
✦ Place the cursor near the start or end point of a region and drag the
region’s start or end point to shorten or lengthen the region. (Refer to
Figure 3-9.)
✦ Place your cursor where you want to expand or contract the region
and click with your mouse. (Refer to Figure 3-10.)
The start or end point of the region moves out or in depending on which
way the Time Trimmer Tool cursor is facing. (See upcoming Figure 3-12.)
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Getting into Editing
To use the Time Trimmer tool, call it up by clicking and holding over the
Trimmer tool button and then dragging down to select the Time Trimmer
option. Then do one of the following:
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Editing Regions
The Edit mode you use determines how the Time Trimmer tool behaves and
how the regions surrounding the trim react. Check out the previous section
for a rundown of the different ways that the Edit modes work with the trim
tools.
To return the region to its original length, follow these steps:
✦ Drag the original region from the Audio Regions list to the track’s
playlist.
✦ Choose Edit➪Undo from the main menu (assuming this was the last
operation you performed).
Taking advantage of the Trim command
You can trim regions using the Trim command located in the Edit menu.
(Refer to Figure 3-2.) The menu gives you three options:
✦ Trim to Selection: Using this command removes all the region except
the part you selected, as shown in Figure 3-12. To do this trim, select the
part of the region that you want to keep and then choose this command.
Figure 3-12:
Now you
see it (left),
now you
don’t (right):
the Trim to
Selection
command.
✦ Trim Start to Insertion: This command trims the region from the start
point to the Edit Insert point designated by your cursor, as shown in
Figure 3-13. To perform this trim, start by placing your cursor where you
want to trim to and then choose this command.
Figure 3-13:
The Trim
Start to
Insertion
command.
Editing Regions
399
✦ Trim End to Insertion: Using this command removes that part of the
region from the Edit Insert point to the end point of the region, as shown
in Figure 3-14. Doing this trim is as simple as placing your cursor at the
desired place in the region and then choosing the command from the
Edit menu.
Figure 3-14:
The Trim
End to
Insertion
command.
Using the Nudge function to trim a region
You can trim or expand the start or end points of a region using the plus (+)
and minus (–) keys on the number pad section of your keyboard. (To see
how to set the Nudge value, go to the next section, “Moving regions.”)
Here’s how to trim the start point by using the Nudge function:
1. With the Grabber tool, select a region.
2. Press Option (Mac) or Alt (PC) along with the plus (+) key to trim or
the minus (–) key to expand the start point.
Each time you press the key, you move the boundary of the region by
the Nudge value.
To trim the end point with the Nudge function
1. With the Grabber tool, select a region.
2. Press Ô (Mac) or Ctrl (PC) along with the plus (+) key to expand or the
minus (–) key to trim the end point.
Moving regions
You can move (that is, slide) regions in a session either within a track or across
tracks. You can nudge them, shift them, and — depending on the Edit mode
you’re using — move them to precisely where you want them. This section
details the many ways you can move regions.
Book IV
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Getting into Editing
Each time you press the key, you move the boundary of the region by
the Nudge value.
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Editing Regions
Before you do any moving, however, keep two things in mind:
✦ You can make a copy of a region you want to slide by pressing Option
(Mac) or Alt (PC) while you slide it. This keeps the original in its place.
✦ When you move a region from one track to another, you can keep its
start point from changing by pressing Control (Mac) or Windows (PC)
while you slide it. This lets you move regions from track to track without
losing (ahem) track of its position in the session.
Nudging
If you want to move a region only a little bit, simply nudge it. With the Nudge
function, you can set the Nudge value to be as fine or as coarse as you like.
To set the Nudge value, click and hold the arrow to the right of the Nudge title
located just beneath the Counters in the Edit window to open the Nudge Value
drop-down menu. Then select the scale and value you want, as shown in
Figure 3-15. You can choose Bars:Beats, Min:Sec, or Samples for your Nudge
scale. The values you choose depend on this scale. You can also choose to
follow the main time scale for the session by selecting that option at the
bottom of the dialog box.
Figure 3-15:
Set the
Nudge
value from
the Nudge
drop-down
menu.
To actually nudge a region or multiple regions, do the following:
1. With the Grabber tool, select the region or regions that you want to
move.
Select the Grabber by clicking its icon in the upper part of the Edit window.
To select more than one region, press the Shift key while you grab each
region.
Editing Regions
401
2. Press the plus (+) key or minus (–) key in the numerical section of your
keyboard to move it right or left, respectively.
Each press of the key moves the region over by the Nudge value.
If you want to move the region over faster and still use the Nudge function,
you can have Pro Tools move the region by the next higher Nudge value than
the one you chose. For example, if you have the Nudge value set for quarter
notes, you can nudge by half notes. Here’s the drill:
1. With the Grabber tool, select the region(s) you want to nudge.
2. Press Control (Mac) or Windows (PC) as well as the slash key ( / ) to
move the material forward (right) or the M key to nudge it back (left).
You can skip using the Control (Mac) or Windows (PC) keys if you have
the Commands Focus button enabled.
You can nudge the contents within a region without moving its start or end
points. This lets you keep the region you have as well as its start and end
points while changing which material from the region’s parent audio file is
contained within the region’s boundaries.
1. With the Grabber tool, select the region you want to nudge.
2. Press Control (Mac) or Windows (PC) and the plus (+) key to move the
region’s content to the right and minus (–) key to move the contents to
the left.
The region stays put, and the audio from the original file moves within it,
as shown in Figure 3-16.
This process works only if audio information is located outside the current
region’s boundaries.
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Getting into Editing
Figure 3-16:
Nudging a
region
moves the
audio file
within the
region.
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Editing Regions
Shifting regions
Use the Pro Tools Shift command to move regions by a specified amount.
This is very handy when compensating for latency, such as with the Mbox or
with some plug-ins.
To shift regions via the Shift command, follow these steps:
1. Select a region, using either the Grabber or the Selector tool.
You can select regions from more than one track. (Check out Book IV,
Chapter 2 for details on how to do this.)
2. Choose Edit➪Shift from the main menu.
The Shift dialog box appears, as shown in Figure 3-17.
Figure 3-17:
Shift a
region by a
specific
amount.
3. Enter the Shift value in the Shift dialog box as well as whether you
want to shift the region earlier or later.
This value can be in whatever time format you want: bars and beats,
minutes and seconds, or samples.
4. Click OK.
The region shifts by the amount you specify in Step 3.
The Edit mode you’re in has no effect on how the Shift command works.
Your region moves over by the specified amount regardless of whether any
other regions are present on that spot.
Moving with Edit modes
When you move or slide regions around in sessions, each Edit mode treats
the regions differently. In this section, I describe how these modes work.
(You select your Edit mode by clicking on the corresponding mode name in
the upper-left side of the Edit window.)
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403
✦ Shuffle mode: You can shuffle regions by selecting the Shuffle Edit
mode. This mode lets you shuffle the regions in a track around, but they
always snap to one another — start point to end point.
✦ Slip mode: In Slip Edit mode, you can move regions around at will. You
can have space between them and have them overlap.
If you place a region in a track using Slip mode and then switch to
Shuffle mode, that region stays where it is while you shuffle other
regions in the track. These other regions might end up overlapping the
slipped region, or you might end up with empty space between them.
✦ Spot mode: In Spot mode, whenever you select a region or part of a
region, the Spot dialog box opens, prompting you to enter your destination location.
✦ Grid mode: In Grid mode, your regions snap to the nearest grid boundary when you move them around. Grid mode offers you two options:
• Absolute: Whenever you move a region in Absolute mode, the start
point moves to the nearest grid boundary.
• Relative: When you move a region in Relative mode, it moves by grid
increments (the square units of the grid). This allows you to move a
region around while keeping its start point at the same position relative to a grid boundary.
For example, if you have a region that starts on the last sixteenth note of a
beat and your grid value is set for quarter notes, here’s what the move looks
like: Each time you move the region by one grid increment, the region moves
by the value of one quarter note — but it stays at the last sixteenth note of
the beat. This is handy for moving around drum rhythms.
You can change the grid resolution by opening the Grid drop-down menu —
refer to Figure 3-4 — and choosing the grid scale and value. You open this
menu by clicking and holding the arrow to the right of the Grid title situated
under the Edit tools at the upper end of the Edit window.
Book IV
Chapter 3
Getting into Editing
You can show the grid in the Edit menu by clicking the Timebase ruler icon,
located at the top of the Timebase ruler section of the Edit window. This grid
is labeled with whatever time format you chose for your main counter. You
can also select the Draw Grid in Edit Window option, on the Display tab of
the Preferences dialog box, to show the grid. (Choose Setup➪Preferences
from the main menu to call up the Preferences dialog box.)
404
Editing Regions
Locking regions
You can lock regions in place after you put them where you want them. This
keeps you from accidentally moving or deleting them when you work with
other regions in the session. To lock a region, do the following:
1. With the Grabber tool, select one or more regions.
To select multiple regions on different tracks, press and hold the Shift
key while you click each region.
2. Choose Region➪Lock/Unlock from the main menu.
A small closed-lock icon appears at the lower-left corner of the region, as
shown in Figure 3-18.
To unlock a region, select the region and choose Region➪Lock/Unlock from
the main menu.
Figure 3-18:
A small lock
icon
indicates a
locked
region.
Lock icon
In effect, because they won’t move, any region after the locked region is also
locked when you’re in Shuffle mode. Also, in this mode, you can’t place a
region in front of the locked one if it’s longer than the space available for it.
Quantizing regions
Quantizing regions in Pro Tools involves snapping a region’s start or synch
point (if you have one defined) to the nearest grid boundary. It’s a way to
align regions, which is handy for working with drum and percussion parts
because you can arrange them and then quantize them to make them fit the
groove of the song. To quantize a region, follow these steps:
1. Set the grid value that you want in the Grid Value drop-down menu.
You open this menu by clicking and holding the arrow to the right of the
Grid title, located just beneath the Edit tool sections at the top of the
Edit window.
2. With the Grabber tool, select the region you want to quantize.
Selecting part of a region quantizes the entire region because this command moves the start point (and the rest of the region with it).
Editing Regions
405
3. Choose Region➪Quantize to Grid from the main menu, as shown in
Figure 3-19, or press Ô+0 (zero; Mac) or Ctrl+0 (zero; PC).
The region’s start or synch point moves to the nearest grid boundary.
Figure 3-19:
The
Quantize
Regions
command
moves the
start or
synch point
of a region
to the
nearest grid
boundary.
Muting/unmuting regions
You can mute regions or parts of regions. This gives you more flexibility than
muting an entire track. To mute a region, do the following:
1. Select a region or a portion of one.
• To select the entire region: Use the Grabber tool and click anywhere
on that region within the track’s playlist.
• To select a portion of a region: Use the Selector tool and drag across
the region in the track’s playlist.
2. Press Ô+M (Mac) or Ctrl+M (PC) or choose Region➪Mute/Unmute
from the main menu.
When muted, the region appears dimmed in the playlist, as shown in
Figure 3-20.
Getting into Editing
Figure 3-20:
Muted
regions are
dimmed in
the playlist.
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Editing Regions
To unmute a region, follow these steps:
1. With the Grabber tool, select the muted region or portion of the
region.
You select the Grabber tool by clicking the Grabber tool button at the
top of the Edit window.
2. Choose Region➪Mute/Unmute from the main menu or press Ô+M
(Mac) or Ctrl+M (PC).
What was muted is now unmuted.
Splitting stereo tracks
When you work with stereo tracks, you usually work with both sides of the
stereo file at once. If you want to edit one or another of the stereo channels
independently, the first step toward doing so is splitting the stereo track into
two mono tracks.
You split a stereo track into two mono tracks by following these steps:
1. Click the track in the Edit or Mix window with the Grabber tool to select
the track you want to split, as shown in the upper part of Figure 3-21.
If you want to split more than one track, Shift-click the rest of the tracks.
2. Choose Track➪Split into Mono from the main menu.
The tracks are split and renamed automatically, as shown at the bottom
of Figure 3-21.
Figure 3-21:
A stereo
track (top)
can be split
into two
mono tracks
(bottom).
Examining Edit Commands
407
Examining Edit Commands
If you’ve worked with any word processing program, you’re probably familiar with Edit commands, such as cut, copy, clear, duplicate, and paste. Pro
Tools, being the super-editor of audio it is, offers a few more: repeat and
merge-paste. All these Edit commands are detailed in the following sections.
The view that you choose for a track affects the kinds of edits you can make
using the commands in this section. If you have the Waveform view open, for
example, any edit you do affects all the parameters for that track — including
automation data. Comparatively, if you have one of the Automation Parameters
views open, that parameter is the only one affected by the edit.
Each Edit mode treats the material in the tack differently when you use the
Edit commands in this section. For instance, when you use Shuffle mode,
regions slide over to make room for a pasted region (or to close the gap left
from a cut region). Likewise, in Slip mode, existing regions stay put, no
matter whether a space is left after cutting or if regions overlap from pasting.
Using the Cut command
Like in most programs that have a Cut command, any selection that you cut
is removed from the track and placed in the Clipboard, from which you can
paste it somewhere else. Here’s how to cut a region or selection:
1. Click and hold the Track View selector (located in the Track Controls
section of the Edit window) and drag down the list to choose the track
view you want.
This determines what data is cut from the track. (See the Remember
icon just under the “Examining Edit Commands” section heading.)
2. Select the region or part of the region you want to cut.
To select the entire region, use the Grabber tool and click anywhere on
that region within the track’s playlist. To select a portion of a region, use
the Selector tool and drag across the region in the track’s playlist.
menu.
The selection is placed on the Clipboard.
Getting into Editing
3. Press Ô+X (Mac) or Ctrl+X (PC) or choose Edit➪Cut from the main
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Examining Edit Commands
If you select only part of a region to cut, Pro Tools creates new regions,
basing them on the new region arrangement for the track. For example, if you
choose a part of a region within the entire region, you end up with three new
regions listed in the Audio Regions list:
✦ The portion to the left of the selection
✦ The cut selection that no longer resides in the track’s playlist and now
sits on the Clipboard instead
✦ The material to the right of the cut selection
Using the Copy command
The Copy command in Pro Tools functions just like it does in any computer
software Copy function: The selected material is copied to the Clipboard. To
copy a selection, follow these steps:
1. Click and hold the Track View selector (located in the Track Controls
section of the Edit window) and drag down the list to choose the track
view you want to edit.
This determines the data that is cut from the track. (See the Remember
icon just under the “Examining Edit Commands” section heading.)
2. Select the region or part of the region you want to copy.
To select the entire region, use the Grabber tool and click anywhere on
that region within the track’s playlist. To select a portion of a region, use
the Selector tool and drag across the region in the track’s playlist.
3. Choose Edit➪Copy from the main menu or press Ô+C (Mac) or
Ctrl+C (PC).
The selection is placed on the Clipboard. And, if you’re not dealing with the
entire region, a new region corresponding to your selection is created in
the Audio Regions list.
Clearing selections
In Pro Tools, using the Clear command removes the selected material from a
track without putting it in the Clipboard and without adding a region to the
Audio Regions list corresponding to the selection you cleared. To clear a
selection, do the following:
1. Choose the Waveform Track view if you want to clear all the data
from the selection (or choose the Automation Parameters view if you
only want to clear from that parameter). To select a track view, click
and hold the track view selector (located in the Track Controls section
of the Edit window) and drag down the list.
Examining Edit Commands
409
This determines the data that is cut from the track. (See the Remember
icon just under the “Examining Edit Commands” section heading.)
2. Select the region or part of the region you want to copy.
To select the entire region, use the Grabber tool and click anywhere on
that region within the track’s playlist. To select a portion of a region, use
the Selector tool and drag across the region in the track’s playlist.
3. Choose Edit➪Clear from the main menu or press Ô+B (Mac) or
Ctrl+B (PC).
The selection is cleared from your session.
If you clear only part of the region, Pro Tools creates new regions from the
remaining material in the region.
Performing a paste
When you paste a selection, the pasted material comes from the Clipboard,
the result of a Copy or a Cut command. To paste a selection, do the following:
1. With the Selector tool, place your cursor where you want to paste the
material in the appropriate track.
If you want the selection to be right at the start or end point of a region,
you can move the cursor to the right or left to put it there:
• Press Tab to move the cursor to the right.
• Press Option+Tab (Mac) or Ctrl+Tab (PC) to move the cursor to the left.
2. Press Ô+V (Mac) or Ctrl+V (PC) or choose Edit➪Paste from the main
menu.
The material on the Clipboard is placed at the selection point.
If you paste a selection at an Edit Insert point (putting the cursor at a single
point) in Shuffle mode, the material to the right of the cursor slides over to
the end of the pasted section. If you paste into a selected section of the
track, the pasted material replaces the selected material.
Using the Duplicate command in Pro Tools is essentially the same as copying
and then pasting the start point of the selection right after the end point of
the copied section. Duplicate makes quick work of creating loops. To duplicate a selection:
1. Select the region or part of the region you want to duplicate.
To select the entire region, use the Grabber tool and click anywhere on
that region within the track’s playlist. To select a portion of a region, use
the Selector tool and drag across the region in the track’s playlist.
Getting into Editing
Using the Duplicate command
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Examining Edit Commands
2. Choose Edit➪Duplicate from the main menu or press Ô+D (Mac) or
Ctrl+D (PC).
The selection is copied and pasted at the End point.
If you want to construct loops, make sure that you set the main time scale of
your session to Bars:Beats. Also, use the Selector tool to drag your selection;
or if you’d rather type in a specific value, type in the number of bars or beats
in the start and end points in the Event Edit area. This ensures that your
selection is duplicated and placed in the proper time location. Using the
Grabber tool might result in the material moving by a few samples in one
direction or another.
Performing a repeat
If you want to duplicate a selection more than once (when creating looped
sections, for instance), you can use the Repeat command. The Repeat command
works the same way as the Duplicate command except that when you choose
Edit➪Repeat from the main menu (or press Option+R, Mac or Alt+R, PC), the
Repeat dialog box opens, as shown in Figure 3-22, where you can enter the
number of times you want to repeat the Paste part of the procedure.
Each repeated selection is placed immediately after the previous one.
Figure 3-22:
Specify how
many times
you want
the
selection to
repeat.
Chapter 4: Adding to Your
Editing Palette
In This Chapter
Getting to know the Smart tool
Fixing waveforms
Silencing regions
Using processing plug-ins
Performing fades and crossfades
A
side from the basic editing methods — the ones I describe in the first
three chapters of this mini-book — Pro Tools offers some extra goodies
that can make the editing process easier. And what might I mean by goodies? In
this particular case, I’m talking about the aptly named Smart tool, the Pencil
tool, processing plug-ins, fades, and crossfades. This chapter lays out these
tools and helps turn you into a Pro Tools editing pro (or at least an informed
amateur).
Signing On to the Smart Tool
The Smart tool in Pro Tools is, well, smart. This tool consists of three tools I
describe in Chapter 3 in this mini-book — the Trimmer, the Selector, and the
Grabber. But the Smart Tool is more than just these three tools. The Smart tool
actually changes how it works, depending on what you try to do with it. For
example, if you place the cursor close to the start or end point of a region, the
Trimmer tool is activated. And if you place the cursor somewhere else within
the region, the Selector or the Grabber appears, depending on where you put the
cursor.
To use the Smart tool, click the button located under the Selector tool in the
Edit window, as shown in Figure 4-1.
412
Signing On to the Smart Tool
Figure 4-1:
The Smart
tool: the
button
under the
Selector
tool.
Click here to enable the Smart tool.
Using the Smart tool in Waveform view
When you’re using the Smart tool with a track set to Waveform view, each
Edit tool in the Smart tool set (Trimmer, Selector, Grabber) becomes active
according to where you place the cursor in the region. (See Book II, Chapter 4
for more on setting your view to Waveform view.) While you’re in Waveform
view, you can also perform fades and crossfades. This section details each
of these editing tools and/or techniques.
Trimmer tool
To activate the Trimmer tool when you’re in the Smart tool mode, position
your cursor near the start or end point of the region you want to work with.
The Trimmer cursor appears, as shown in Figure 4-2. You can trim or extend
a region by clicking and dragging the start or end point to the left or right.
Figure 4-2:
Put the
cursor near
the start or
end point to
activate the
Trimmer
tool.
Trimmer cursor
Selector tool
You enable the Selector tool when you’re in the Smart tool mode by positioning
your cursor in the upper half of the region, as shown in Figure 4-3. When you
see the Selector cursor, you can drag across the region to make a selection.
Signing On to the Smart Tool
413
Selector cursor
Figure 4-3:
Put the
cursor in the
upper half of
the region to
enable the
Selector.
Grabber tool
When you place the cursor in the lower half of a region — but not near the
start or end point — you enable the Grabber tool, as shown in Figure 4-4. To
grab the region, click it when the Grabber cursor appears. You can then drag
the region to another place.
Figure 4-4:
The Grabber
appears
when the
cursor is in
the lower
half of a
region.
Grabber cursor
Fading in or out
Book IV
Chapter 4
Adding to Your
Editing Palette
Fade-ins and fade-outs are editing techniques by which you make the volume
of the region increase from silence or decrease to silence, respectively. These
techniques are useful when you want to eliminate abrupt changes in sound,
such as clicks, when a region starts or ends. You can use the Smart tool to
perform a fade-in or fade-out by placing the cursor in the upper corner of the
region near the start point (for a fade-in) or the end point (for a fade-out) and
waiting until the Fade icon appears, as shown in Figure 4-5. Then you can
select the Fade length by dragging your cursor to the right (to fade in) or left
(to fade out). (For more on fade-ins and fade-outs, see the “Performing Fades
and Crossfades” section, later in this chapter.)
414
Signing On to the Smart Tool
Fade icon
Figure 4-5:
Getting the
Fade icon.
Creating crossfades
A crossfade occurs when the volume of the first of two adjacent regions
decreases to silence while the second of these two regions increases from
silence. This smoothes the transition going from one region to another. You
can create a crossfade between two adjacent regions by placing the cursor
at the bottom corner where the two regions adjoin and waiting until the
Crossfade icon appears, as shown in Figure 4-6. After the icon appears, you
can drag to the left or right to set the crossfade length. (The “Performing
Fades and Crossfades” section, later in this chapter, has more on crossfades.)
Figure 4-6:
To get the
Crossfade
icon, put the
cursor at
the bottom
where
regions
adjoin.
Crossfade icon
Using the Smart tool in Automation view
To add to the versatility of the Smart tools (outlined in the previous sections),
each tool in the set — Trimmer, Selector, and Grabber — performs differently
when you have a track set to one of the Automation views (Volume, Panning,
Mute, and Send Levels). (Book II, Chapter 4 has more on track views; Book VI,
Chapter 6 has more on automating a mix.)
Automating the Trimmer tool
To select a region in one of the Automation views with the Smart version of
the Trimmer tool, position your cursor in the top 25 percent of the region.
The Trimmer icon appears, as shown in Figure 4-7. You can move your cursor
Signing On to the Smart Tool
415
up and down to change the automation value or to create breakpoints (places
where changes occur in the automation curves). If you want finer control of
the Trimmer tool and your work, press Ô (Mac) or Ctrl (PC) after you begin
trimming.
Trimmer cursor
Figure 4-7:
To get the
Trimmer
tool, put the
cursor in the
upper 25%
of a region.
Automating the Selector tool
To use the Selector tool in Smart mode when you have one of the Automation
views set for a track, position your cursor in the lower 75 percent of the region,
as shown in Figure 4-8. You can then make your selection.
Figure 4-8:
To get the
Selector
tool, put
your cursor
in the lower
75% of a
region.
Selector cursor
Automating the Grabber tool
You can use the Grabber tool in several different ways when you have a
track set to an Automation view. Here are two especially handy ways:
✦ Editing existing breakpoints: Just position the cursor near one of these
points, and the Grabber magically appears. You can increase the resolution
of your movements to fine control by pressing Ô (Mac) or Ctrl (PC) after
you start moving the breakpoint.
Adding to Your
Editing Palette
To use the Smart version of the Grabber tool in a track set to one of the
Automation views, press Ô (Mac) or Ctrl (PC) with your cursor placed in the
region, as shown in Figure 4-9.
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416
Perusing the Pencil Tool
✦ Constraining the Grabber vertically: To keep the Grabber from moving
right or left, press Shift — or, if you set the tool to fine control, press
Ô+Shift (Mac) or Ctrl+Shift (PC).
Figure 4-9:
To get the
Grabber
tool, press
Ô or Ctrl.
Grabber cursor
Perusing the Pencil Tool
In spite of all your effort to keep from creating any of the digital distortions
known as overs — also referred to as clipping — you might have one pop
through even now and then. No worries; use the Pencil tool to redraw the
waveform and get rid that nasty critter. (Is that cool, or what?) You can also
use the Pencil tool to remove other unwanted pops or clicks that show up in
your precious tracks.
The Pencil tool, as shown here in the margin, is active only when you zoom
way into a waveform, as shown in Figure 4-10.
Figure 4-10:
You can use
the Pencil
tool if you
zoom
way in.
Using the Pencil tool to redraw a waveform is a destructive act; it changes
your original audio file permanently. Before you redraw, make a copy of the
original region (using the Duplicate function under the AudioSuite menu) so
you don’t lose the good stuff in the original file. The next section tells you
precisely how to do that.
Creating a copy of the original file
I strongly recommend making a copy of a region before you edit it with the
Pencil tool. (See the Warning icon in the previous section.) Here’s how to do
just that:
Perusing the Pencil Tool
417
1. Select the region you want to work on.
2. Choose AudioSuite➪Other➪Duplicate from the main menu.
The Duplicate dialog box appears, as shown in Figure 4-11.
Figure 4-11:
The
Duplicate
dialog box.
3. Enable the Use in Playlist option on the right, and make sure that
Playlist is chosen in the top-center field.
4. Click the Process button (lower right).
You now have a copy of the original region that’s put in the track in
place of the original. (The original still resides in the Audio Regions list.)
Using the Pencil tool to redraw a waveform
To redraw a waveform (after you make a copy of it — see the previous section for why), follow these steps:
1. Find the area in the region that you want to edit.
2. With the Zoom tool, repeatedly click the spot you want to edit until
you get into the sample level.
The waveform looks like a single wavy line. (Refer to Figure 4-10.)
3. Select the Pencil tool.
4. Locate the exact spot to edit.
If you have trouble seeing the problem, use the Scrub tool to listen to
the audio.
5. Draw over the waveform to round over the spot that was chopped off
when the note got clipped. (See the right side of Figure 4-12.)
Take it easy when making changes to the waveform. All you want to do is
smooth out the peak — not change the sound too much.
Book IV
Chapter 4
Adding to Your
Editing Palette
Your target, typically a moment of distorted sound, is usually easy to see
because it looks like a sharp peak in the waveform. (See the left side of
Figure 4-12.) If it isn’t apparent, you might need to adjust the horizontal
until you can see it clearly. (For more on adjusting the horizontal zoom,
see Book II, Chapter 4.)
418
Silencing Selections
Figure 4-12:
The Pencil
tool fixes a
chopped-off
peak (left) of
a waveform
(right).
Silencing Selections
Pro Tools offers a couple of ways to manage silence in selections: You can strip
silence from regions to reduce the size of your audio files, and you can insert
silence into regions where you don’t want any sound. I cover both of these
options in the following sections.
Stripping silence
Using the Strip Silence command allows you to take a selection that meets a
minimum sound level and silence it. This divides the region that the silence
was stripped from into smaller regions. This lets you isolate sound effects or
musical passages so that you can quantize them or locate them at specific
synch points within your session. (Check out Chapter 3 in this mini-book for
more on synch points.) Stripping silence from regions also allows you to compact your audio file farther than you could if you didn’t strip the low-volume
parts to silence. (See the “Compacting a file” section, later in this chapter.)
This technique saves hard drive space by making your audio files smaller.
Understanding the Strip Silence window
Whenever you use the Strip Silence command (see the following section), a
window opens (see Figure 4-13) where you can set the parameters under
which the silence will be stripped from a region. These parameters include
✦ Strip Threshold slider: This setting determines the signal level below
which the audio is silenced.
✦ Min(imum) Strip Duration slider: This parameter makes sure that if you
have a really small section that falls below the threshold, you don’t end up
with a ton of sections where silence was stripped and didn’t need to be.
✦ Region Start Pad slider: This parameter adds a specified amount of time
to the beginning of each region created when you use the Strip Silence
command.
Silencing Selections
419
Figure 4-13:
Use the
Strip
Silence
window to
remove
silence.
✦ Region End Pad slider: This parameter is essentially the same as the
previous one except that it adds time after the end of a region stripped
from silence.
✦ Strip button: This performs the strip function and clears everything
within the “silence” threshold determined by your settings in this
window.
✦ Rename button: Clicking this button opens the Rename Selected
Regions dialog box (see Figure 4-14), where you choose how new regions
are named after silence has been stripped.
✦ Extract button: This parameter strips the audio specified in the strip silence
settings and leaves the rest. This is the opposite effect of stripping the
silence and leaving the audio. This is handy for keeping ambient noise so
you can use it somewhere else. For example, if you want to replace a drum
part, you can pre-record the drum and mix it in with the ambient noise to
match the basic sound of the original track.
✦ Separate button: This separates the regions created by the strip silence
command. Each section of audio resides in its own region.
Book IV
Chapter 4
Adding to Your
Editing Palette
Figure 4-14:
Set the
name
format for
each new
region
created by
the Strip
Silence
command.
420
Silencing Selections
Using the Strip Silence command
To strip silence from audio regions, follow these steps:
1. Select a region or part of a region.
Chapter 2 in this mini-book has more on making selections.
2. Choose Window➪Show Strip Silence from the main menu.
The Strip Silence window opens. (Refer to Figure 4-13.)
3. Click the Rename button to set your region name preferences.
4. Adjust the parameter sliders until rectangles appear in the region and
any material you want to remove resides outside the rectangles, as
shown in Figure 4-15.
This might take some time. If you want to increase the resolution of the
sliders, press Ô (Mac) or Ctrl (PC) while you move them.
5. When you have the rectangles where you want them, click the Strip
button in the Strip Silence window.
Any part of the region not in the rectangles is removed; each rectangled
section then becomes a new region, using the naming scheme that you
choose in the Rename dialog box.
Figure 4-15:
Adjust the
sliders
to put
unwanted
stuff
outside the
rectangles.
Inserting silence
If you’re like most people, you keep the session rolling — even when you
don’t play anything during certain passages — to keep the feel happening
throughout the tune. In this case, it’s not uncommon to have passages where
pretty much nothing is recorded (well, except for maybe a cough or a chair
squeak). Rather than cutting those sections from your track, you can insert
silence into those sections instead. With the Insert Silence command, you
can quickly and easily put silence anywhere you want within a track.
Performing Fades and Crossfades
421
Inserting silence into tracks works differently for each Edit mode. This can
often prove confusing, so to help you keep things straight, I not only show
you how to insert silence, but also let you know what conditions apply when
you use the different Edit modes.
Inserting an amount of silence
You insert silence into a track with the following steps:
1. With the Selector tool, select the part of a region that you want to
silence; then click and drag across the section of the region that you
want to select.
2. Choose Edit➪Insert Silence from the main menu or press Shift+Ô+E
(Mac) or Shift+Ctrl+E (PC).
The selected section is silenced.
Understanding the results
When you’re using the Insert Silence command, each Edit mode treats certain
conditions differently. The difference depends on the mode in use at the time:
✦ Shuffle mode: If the track(s) you selected is set to Waveform view, all
audio and automation data is cleared, and all subsequent regions are
shuffled the amount of the silence.
✦ Slip mode: If the track(s) you selected is set to Waveform view, all audio
and automation data is cleared. On the other hand, if your track is set to
one of the Automation views, only the data from that view is removed.
✦ Grid mode: All audio and automation data is cleared. This is essentially
the same as using the clear command; see Chapter 3 in this mini-book.
All the regions stay where they are in the session when the silence is
inserted.
Performing Fades and Crossfades
Adding to Your
Editing Palette
As I mention earlier in this chapter, you use fade-ins and fade-outs to make
the volume of the region increase from silence or decrease to silence,
respectively. Both techniques are useful when you want to eliminate abrupt
changes in sound, such as clicks, when a region starts or ends. A crossfade
combines of a fade-out and a fade-in that happens at the junction of two
adjacent regions to make a smooth transition between these two regions.
Book IV
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Performing Fades and Crossfades
You can create fade-ins, fade-outs, and crossfades faster and easier than ever
before in Pro Tools. You can use fades to bring regions in and out of a mix or
to make a seamless transition from one adjoining region to another. One of
the key aspects of fades is creating a curve (how the fade happens) that fits
the material you want to fade. Pro Tools gives you many options for shaping
your curves.
Dealing with the Fades dialog box
Whatever kind of fade you create — fade-in, fade-out, or crossfade — you
make the fade from the settings in the Fades dialog box. You access the
Fades dialog box by choosing Edit➪Fades➪Create from the main menu. After
you get the dialog box up on your computer screen (as shown in Figure
4-16), you can adjust the following parameters to meet your needs:
✦ Audition: Clicking this button plays the fade or crossfade so that you
can hear what your settings will sound like.
✦ View First Track: Pro Tools lets you select more than one track to crossfade at one time. (The crossfade, however, takes place on each track and
not across tracks.) The View First Track button allows you to view and
audition the first of the tracks selected.
✦ View Second Track: In a selection that includes more than one track,
this button shows you the second track. If you have more than two
tracks selected, you can’t view beyond the second.
✦ View Both Tracks: Clicking this button lets you view and audition both
tracks selected for crossfading.
✦ Fade Curves Only: Enabling this button shows the fade curves but not
the waveforms for the audio you want to fade or crossfade.
✦ Fade Curves and Separate Waveforms: This button lets you see both
the fade curves and the waveforms for each track. The fade-out waveform shows up above the fade in waveform.
✦ Fade Curves and Superimposed Waveforms: This button superimposes
the two waveforms one on top of the other and shows the fade curves.
✦ Fade Curves and Summed Waveform: This button shows the fade
curves and a single waveform depicting the sum of both original waveforms. Being able to see the sum of both waveforms makes it easier to
see the overall volume of the audio.
✦ Zoom In: The Zoom In button increases the visual height of the waveforms.
You can return to the default setting by Ô-clicking (Mac) or Ctrl-clicking
(PC).
Performing Fades and Crossfades
423
Fade Curves Only
Audition
View First Track
View Second Track
View Both Tracks
Figure 4-16:
The Fades
dialog box.
Zoom Out
Zoom In
Fade Curves and Summed Waveforms
Fade Curves and Superimposed Waveforms
Fade Curves and Separate Waveforms
✦ Zoom Out: Clicking the Zoom Out button decreases the visual height of
the waveform. Ô-clicking (Mac) or Ctrl-clicking (PC) returns the view to
the default setting.
• Standard: This setting uses a basic fade-out shape that you can adjust
by clicking the curve and then dragging the curve how you want it.
Adding to Your
Editing Palette
✦ Out Shape settings: Here, select the shape of the fade out curve. You
have three options:
Book IV
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Performing Fades and Crossfades
• S-Curve: This setting creates an S-shaped curve that you can adjust
by clicking the curve and then dragging to the shape you want —
well, as long as it’s an S shape.
• Presets: Clicking here presents you with a drop-down menu containing seven preset curves for you to choose from, as shown in Figure
4-17. You can change a preset by clicking one of the end points and
dragging it.
Figure 4-17:
Choose
from seven
preset
curves to
make quick
work of
creating
fades or
crossfades.
✦ Link settings: You have the following three choices on how you want the
fade-out and fade-in curves of your crossfades to relate to one another:
• Equal Power: This option keeps the relative volume of the Fade Out
and Fade In regions the same. This selection is best for material that
differs greatly in sound character, such as the fading out of one
instrument and the fading in of another.
• Equal Gain: This setting keeps the Fade In and Fade Out selections
from summing together and overloading the track, resulting in clipping
(distortion). This setting is best used for selections that have the
same relative volume and phase, such as one drum loop to another.
• None: This setting leaves the two fades independent of one another.
This gives you more flexibility to create unique fades. If you want to
edit the Fade In curve only, press Option (Mac) or Alt (PC) while you
drag the curve. To adjust the Fade Out only, press Ô (Mac) or Ctrl
(PC) while you drag the curve.
✦ Use Dither: Selecting this option applies dither — a way to improve the
sound of very quiet material. (Book VII, Chapter 2 has more on dither.)
You don’t need this check box selected if you crossfade fairly loud material, but it’s a good idea if the audio is quiet.
Performing Fades and Crossfades
425
✦ In Shape settings: Here, select the shape of the Fade In curve. Like with
Out Shape setting, you have these options:
• Standard: This setting uses a basic fade-in shape that you can adjust
by clicking the curve and then dragging the curve how you want.
• S-Curve: This setting creates an S-shaped, fade-in curve that you can
adjust by clicking the curve and then dragging it to the shape you
want (as long as it’s an S shape).
• Presets: As you might have guessed, you can choose from seven
preset curves here, which are mirror images of the curves found in
the Out Shape Presets menu. You can change them by clicking one of
the end points and dragging it.
Creating crossfades
The three types of crossfades are centered, pre, and post. These different
flavors — and the actual process of creating a crossfade — are covered in
the following sections.
Creating a centered crossfade
A centered crossfade, the most common type of crossfade, is great for when
the material in the two regions fits well together, such as with two different
takes of a lead vocal part that end up being your final vocal track. Centered
crossfades are fades where the crossfade happens evenly between the two
regions, incorporating audio on both sides of two regions’ splice points (where
they meet). For this type of crossfade to work, you need audio data after the
end point of the first region and before the start point of the second region.
To create a center crossfade, follow these steps:
1. With the Selector tool, drag from the point where you want the crossfade to start (in the first region) to where you want the crossfade to
end (in the second region), as shown in Figure 4-18.
Adding to Your
Editing Palette
Figure 4-18:
Use the
Selector
tool to drag
across
where you
want the
crossfade.
Book IV
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Performing Fades and Crossfades
2. Choose Edit➪Fades➪Create from the main menu or press Ô+F (Mac)
or Ctrl+F (PC).
The Fades dialog box opens. (Refer to Figure 4-16.)
3. Enter your crossfade preferences in the Fades dialog box as listed in
the earlier section, “Dealing with the Fades dialog box.”
Make adjustments to the view, the Fade In and Fade Out curves, and the
Link option — auditioning the crossfade periodically as you go — until
you have the crossfade you want.
4. When you’re happy with the sound of the crossfade, click OK.
Your crossfade is calculated. You can change the duration of the fade by
trimming it; see the “Trimming a crossfade” section later in this chapter.
Creating a pre-crossfade
A pre-crossfade happens before the start point of the second region, as shown
in Figure 4-19. This is a good type of crossfade to use when you have an initial
attack (a cymbal crash, for example) that happens right at the start point of
the second region. In this example, if the second region isn’t at full volume
when the crash happens, you lose the impact of the cymbal. The pre-crossfade
ensures that you get the full impact of the cymbal. For this crossfade to work,
audio data has to be in place before the start point of the second region.
Figure 4-19:
A precrossfade
ends at the
start point of
the second
region.
Follow these steps to create a pre-crossfade:
1. With the Selector tool, click in the region at the point where you want
the pre-crossfade to begin.
2. Shift-drag or press Shift+Tab to select to the end of the region.
3. Choose Edit➪Fades➪Create from the main menu or press Ô+F (Mac)
or Ctrl+F (PC).
The Fades dialog box makes its appearance. (Refer to Figure 4-16.)
Performing Fades and Crossfades
427
4. Choose your Fade settings and audition them, adjusting the settings as
you go until you have the fade that you want.
5. Click OK.
The fade is created.
Creating a post-crossfade
A post-crossfade happens after the end of the first region, as shown in Figure
4-20. This type of crossfade is useful for when you have a sound that continues
all the way up to the end of the first region (to keep the drum theme going: a
hi-hat note, for instance) and you want to make sure that the last hi-hat
doesn’t drop off in volume while it’s being hit. This type of crossfade works
only if the first region contains audio data after its end point.
Figure 4-20:
A postcrossfade
begins at
the start of
the second
region.
Follow these steps to create a post-crossfade:
1. With the Selector tool, click in the region at the point where you want
the fade to end.
2. Shift-drag or press Shift+Option+Tab (Mac) or Shift+Alt+Tab (PC) to
select back to the region’s start point.
3. Choose Edit➪Fades➪Create from the main menu or press Ô+F (Mac)
or Ctrl+F (PC) to open the Fades dialog box. (Refer to Figure 4-16.)
4. Choose your fade settings and audition them, adjusting the settings as
5. Click OK.
The fade is created.
Removing a crossfade
To remove a crossfade, select the crossfade with the Grabber tool and then
press Delete (Mac) or Backspace (PC). You can also choose Edit➪Fades➪
Delete from the main menu.
Adding to Your
Editing Palette
you go until you have the fade you want.
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Performing Fades and Crossfades
Trimming a crossfade
Here’s how to change the boundaries of a crossfade:
1. Select the crossfade by double-clicking with the Selector tool or by
grabbing with the Grabber tool.
2. With the Trimmer tool, click and drag either side of the crossfade.
Fading in and out
A fade-in happens when you make the volume of the region increase from
silence to smooth the transition into the region. Comparatively, a fade-out is
a decrease in volume that’s useful when you want to smooth the transition
leaving a region. These types of fades are often used when you have accent
parts that come and go in the song — keyboard or guitar licks that counterpoint the lead vocal, for instance — and you want them to seamlessly flow in
and out of the song. Without a fade into or out of the region, you might hear
abrupt changes in the sound because of the background noise in those parts.
You can fade a single region in or out via the Fades dialog box. Creating these
fades saves you the trouble of performing automation curves to fade in or
out. (Of course, you can still do that, but it does use more of your computer’s
processing power. I explain the process in Book VI, Chapter 6.)
Fading in to the beginning of a region
To fade in to a single region, follow these steps:
1. With the Selector tool, select the beginning of the region you want to
fade into.
To make this process work, you have to begin your selection point
before (or at) the start point — not after it.
2. Choose Edit➪Fades➪Create from the main menu or press Ô+F (Mac)
or Ctrl+F (PC).
The Fades dialog box appears. (Refer to Figure 4-16.)
3. Choose your parameters in the dialog box and audition the fade,
making adjustments to the settings until you get the fade to sound how
you want.
4. Click OK.
The fade is created, and the Fade curve appears in the selected region.
You can also fade in without opening the Fades dialog box. When you do this,
Pro Tools uses the setting you select in the Fades menu.
Performing Fades and Crossfades
429
To fade in without using the Fades dialog box, follow these steps:
1. Click an insertion point somewhere within the region, as shown in
Figure 4-21.
2. Press Control+D (Mac) or Windows+D (PC) or select Edit➪Fades➪Fade
To Start from the main menu.
The Fade is created, and the curve appears in the selected region.
Figure 4-21:
Creating a
fade-in
without
opening
the Fades
dialog box.
Fading out at the end of a region
To fade out from a single region, follow these steps:
1. With the Selector tool, select the beginning of the region you want to
fade.
Your selection point needs to stop after or at the end point — not before
it — for this process to work.
2. Choose Edit➪Fades➪Create from the main menu or press Ô+F (Mac)
or Ctrl+F (PC).
The Fades dialog box appears. (Refer to Figure 4-16.)
3. Choose your parameters in the dialog box and audition the fade,
making adjustments to the settings until you get the fade to sound how
you want.
Book IV
Chapter 4
4. Click OK.
You can also fade out without opening the Fades dialog box. When you do
this, Pro Tools uses the setting you select in the Fades menu.
Adding to Your
Editing Palette
The fade is created, and the Fade curve appears in the selected region.
430
Performing Fades and Crossfades
To fade out without using the Fades dialog box, follow these steps:
1. Click an insertion point prior to the end of the region, as shown in
Figure 4-22.
2. Press Ctrl+G (Mac) or Windows+G (PC) or select Edit➪Fades➪Fade To
End from the main menu.
The Fade is created, and the curve appears in the selected region.
Figure 4-22:
Fading out
without
opening the
Fades dialog
box.
Creating batch fades
You can create more than one fade at a time by using the Batch Fades command
and selecting multiple regions at a time.
Here’s the way to create batch fades:
1. With the Selector tool, choose the first region you want to fade.
2. Click and drag across the regions you want to include in the batch.
Make sure that the entire last region that you want to fade is selected, as
shown in Figure 4-23.
3. Press Ô+F (Mac) or Ctrl+F (PC) or choose Edit➪Fades➪Create from the
main menu.
The Batch Fades dialog box appears, as shown in Figure 4-24.
4. In the Batch Fades dialog box, choose your In Shape and Out Shape,
the Link option, fade Placement, the crossfade length (in milliseconds),
and whether you want to create a new fade, create new fade-ins and
fade-outs, or adjust existing fades.
Figure 4-23:
Select
across
multiple
regions to
perform
batch fades.
Cleaning Up Your Session
431
Figure 4-24:
Use the
Batch Fades
dialog box
to create
fades on
more than
one region
at a time.
5. Click OK.
The fades are calculated.
You can trim or extend each of the fades later.
Cleaning Up Your Session
After you finish all your editing, you probably have a ton of regions in your
Audio Regions list. Things can get cluttered up pretty quick, so before I start
mixing the song, I like to clean up my session by consolidating regions, getting
rid of any unused regions, and compacting the regions that I want to use. Doing
these things makes it easier to deal with the regions in the session and frees
up hard drive space. It can also make playing the tracks easier on your hard
drive, depending on how many tracks you have in your session.
You can consolidate regions that make up a section of a song by using the
Consolidate command. In effect, you take a bunch of regions — for instance,
the various assembled takes of your guitar part that create the parts for a
song’s verse — and make them into one region. This makes moving or copying
this section easier and also makes for a less cluttered track playlist.
Adding to Your
Editing Palette
Consolidating selections
Book IV
Chapter 4
432
Cleaning Up Your Session
To consolidate selections, follow these steps:
1. Select the regions you want to consolidate using either the Selector
tool or the Grabber tool. Or, if you want to select all the regions in the
track, triple-click anywhere in the track’s playlist.
2. Choose Edit➪Consolidate from the main menu or press
Option+Shift+3 (Mac) or Alt+Shift+3 (PC).
The selected regions are replaced by a new region, which contains all
the audio from the selection, including any muted regions.
Automation data is not consolidated. If you have regions that you want to
consolidate and you want to keep any automation data at all, your best bet is
to do a bounce procedure for that selection. (I cover bounce procedures in
Book VI, Chapter 7.)
Removing unused regions
You can easily get rid of any regions that are not being used in your session.
Here’s how:
1. Open the Audio Regions drop-down menu by clicking and holding the
Audio Regions title at the top of the Audio Regions list located on the
right side of the Edit window.
2. Choose Select➪Unused in the Audio Regions List drop-down menu or
press Shift+Ô+U (Mac) or Shift+Ctrl+U (PC).
All regions in the list that aren’t included in any tracks in the session are
highlighted.
3. Choose Clear Selected from the Audio Regions list drop-down menu.
The Clear Regions dialog box appears, as shown in Figure 4-25, asking
whether you want to remove the regions from the session or delete the
audio files from your hard drive. Choose the option you prefer.
Figure 4-25:
Get rid of
any regions
you aren’t
using in
your
session.
Cleaning Up Your Session
433
Removing the regions from your present session ensures that you have the
region to use in another session, but it won’t reduce the amount of stuff on
your hard drive. If you want to free up space and know that you won’t use
the region in another session, delete it to save hard drive space.
Compacting a file
You can compact an audio file (make it smaller) by using the Compact
Selected command from the Audio Regions drop-down menu. Compacting an
audio file in Pro Tools deletes any audio data that’s not being used. This
reduces the amount of space taken up in your hard drive, which makes backing up your data a quicker process.
Compacting an audio file is like taking all the pieces of tape that were cut
from reels of recorded tape and — gasp! — throwing them away. (Well, okay,
that’s what it would have been like in the days before digital audio.) My
point is that after you compact a file, you’re committed to the results. This is
one of the few editing tasks that you can do that you can’t undo afterward.
You want to compact an audio file only after you do all your editing and
you’re sure you don’t want any of the unused data. (You’re sure. Right?)
To compact a region, follow these steps:
1. From the Audio Regions list, choose the region(s) you want to compact.
2. Open the Audio Regions drop-down menu by clicking and holding the
Audio Regions title at the top of the Audio Regions list and then
choosing Compact.
The Compact Selected dialog box appears, as shown in Figure 4-26.
3. In the Padding field, enter the amount of padding you want on your
regions.
Padding is how much data on either side of the region’s start and end
points might contain fade information. If you have fades in the region,
set your padding amount to the length of the fade to ensure that your
fades still work.
Book IV
Chapter 4
Adding to Your
Editing Palette
434
Cleaning Up Your Session
4. Click the Compact button.
Pro Tools deletes all the data outside the region and its padding.
Figure 4-26:
Remove
extra data
from your
regions,
increasing
available
hard drive
space.
Book V
Managing MIDI
Contents at a Glance
Chapter 1: Preparing to Record MIDI ..............................................................................437
Chapter 2: Recording MIDI ................................................................................................453
Chapter 3: Editing MIDI Data ............................................................................................469
Chapter 4: Performing MIDI Operations ..........................................................................497
Chapter 1: Preparing to
Record MIDI
In This Chapter
Configuring MIDI devices
Creating MIDI and instrument tracks
Setting inputs and outputs
Creating a click track
A
s you can read in Book I, Chapter 4, working with Musical Instrument
Digital Interface (MIDI) lets you record performance data and add the
sounds later. This gives you some advantages over recording audio. First,
your MIDI tracks take up less room on your hard drive (not a big deal in
today’s world, but worth mentioning). Secondly — and the most compelling
reason for working with MIDI data — you can wait to choose the exact
sound you want from your performance. This lets you tweak the sound as
well as your performance. Of course, the drawback is that you can easily
spend more time than you need when trying different options.
The MIDI capabilities in Pro Tools are not as sophisticated as some other
programs, such as Sonar or Logic. This has its advantages for all but the
most discerning MIDI power-user because you can get started creating
music without a lot of fuss.
In this chapter, I walk you through setting up your system and session to
record MIDI in Pro Tools. Along the way, you discover how to set up your
devices, create MIDI tracks, and enable them for recording. You also get a
chance to create a click track to play along with, which makes editing MIDI
faster and easier.
Setting Up Your MIDI Devices
Setting up your MIDI device varies, according to whether you use a Mac or a
PC. Either way, though, setting up a MIDI device takes only a couple of minutes. Enabling MIDI devices is as easy as adding a printer to your system.
The following sections walk you through what you need for each platform.
438
Setting Up Your MIDI Devices
Enabling MIDI devices in Mac OS X
Before you can record MIDI in Mac OS X, you need to do three things:
1. Set up your MIDI devices in OS X.
2. Enable the MIDI channels.
This lets you choose the MIDI channels that each device receives and
sends data on.
3. Enable the input devices in Pro Tools.
That way, you can actually use those devices in Pro Tools.
To configure your MIDI devices in OS X, follow these steps:
1. With your MIDI cables, connect the devices you want to use with
Pro Tools to either the Digidesign hardware or to a separate MIDI
interface.
2. Click the Audio MIDI Setup icon (as shown in the margin) on the Dock.
If this icon isn’t showing, go to Applications➪Utilities➪Audio MIDI
Setup.
The Audio MIDI Setup window opens.
3. Click the MIDI Devices tab of the Audio MIDI Setup window.
A message appears that tells you your system is being scanned.
After the scan is complete, your MIDI interface should appear in the
tab’s window, along with any devices connected to it, as shown in
Figure 1-1.
Figure 1-1:
The Audio
MIDI Setup
window
shows the
MIDI
devices
connected
to your MIDI
interface.
Setting Up Your MIDI Devices
439
If one or more of your devices don’t appear
b. Click the Rescan MIDI icon.
If your device still doesn’t appear
a. Click the Add Device icon.
b. In the dialog box that appears, enter the name, manufacturer, and
model number of the device. Then click OK.
4. After your devices appear in the MIDI Devices tab of the Audio MIDI
Setup window, close the window by choosing Audio MIDI Setup➪
Quit Audio MIDI Setup from the main menu (or press Ô+Q).
You can also close this window by clicking the red X in the upper-left
corner of the window.
To enable MIDI channels in your devices, follow these steps:
1. Click the Audio MIDI Setup icon (as shown in the margin) on the Dock.
The Audio MIDI Setup window opens. (Refer to Figure 1-1.)
2. Click the MIDI Devices tab of the Audio MIDI Setup window.
All MIDI devices connected to your MIDI interface should appear in the
tab’s window.
3. Double-click the device for which you want to activate MIDI channels.
The Device window appears.
4. Click the More Properties tab to expand the window.
The window expands to include Basic and Expert tabs containing settings you can make to your device.
5. Click the Basic tab.
6. In the Transmits and Receives section of the Basics tab, click the channel number(s) through which you want to transmit and receive data.
Blue highlighted channels are active.
7. Click OK to close the Device window.
8. Close the Audio MIDI Setup window by clicking the red X in the upper
left of the window or by pressing Ô+Q.
You can receive MIDI data from other software programs through the Pro
Tools inputs. This is useful if you want to use a separate MIDI sequencer
(such as Logic) to record and edit your MIDI performances before you bring
it into Pro Tools. If you want to do more intensive MIDI editing than Pro
Preparing to Record
MIDI
a. Double-check your cables for proper connection.
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Setting Up Your MIDI Devices
Tools offers, this option can be very handy. (For more on using inputs, see
Chapter 2 in this mini-book.)
If you use any control surfaces (such as a Mackie Control) or if you want to
sync your system to another using MMC (MIDI machine control), you must
enable the devices for these tasks in the MIDI Input Enable dialog box, along
with your other MIDI devices.
To enable input devices in Pro Tools, follow these steps:
1. Choose MIDI➪Input Devices from the main menu.
The MIDI Input Enable dialog box opens, displaying all the MIDI ports in
your system, as shown in Figure 1-2.
2. Select the check boxes for the devices you want to use.
3. Click OK.
Figure 1-2:
Use the
MIDI Input
Enable
dialog box
to select
your MIDI
devices.
Enabling MIDI devices in Windows XP
This section details how to setup your MIDI devices in Windows XP. At the
time of this writing, Windows Vista is not yet supported.
Here’s how to configure MIDI devices in Windows XP:
1. Install the drivers for your MIDI device as described in the device’s
manual.
If you use the MIDI ports in your Digidesign interface, this step was done
when you installed the software, as I describe in Book II, Chapter 1.
2. With your MIDI cables, connect the devices you want to use with
Pro Tools to either the Digidesign hardware or to a separate MIDI
interface.
Setting Up Your MIDI Devices
441
3. Turn on the power for the device.
To enable input devices in Pro Tools, the steps are just like those you’d use
for a Mac:
1. Choose Setup➪MIDI➪Input Devices from the main menu.
The MIDI Input Enable dialog box opens, showing the MIDI ports in your
system.
2. Select the check boxes for the devices you want to use.
3. Click OK.
Running MIDI Thru
MIDI Thru allows you to hear what your MIDI instrument is playing while the
track it’s assigned to is record-enabled. Pro Tools also lets you set up a
default MIDI Thru instrument, so you don’t have to choose a device each
time you enable a MIDI track. Pro Tools uses the designated MIDI Thru
instrument automatically.
To enable MIDI Thru, all you have to do is choose Options➪MIDI Thru from
the main menu.
When you enable MIDI Thru, you also need to disable Local Control in each
of your devices to keep them from receiving double messages and creating
stuck notes (notes that continue playing indefinitely). This is done within
each of your MIDI devices. Consult your device’s manual for details on how
to do this.
If you do end up with some stuck notes, choose Event➪All MIDI Notes Off from
the main menu or press Ô+Shift+. (period; Mac) or Ctrl+Shift+. (period; PC).
Here’s how to set the default MIDI Thru instrument:
1. Choose Setup➪Preferences from the main menu.
The Preferences dialog box opens.
2. Click the MIDI tab, as shown in Figure 1-3.
Preparing to Record
MIDI
Your device should show up in your MIDI tracks’ Input and Output selector drop-down menus. If not, restart your computer. If this still doesn’t
work, you may need to go into the Device Driver menu and manually
move the driver for your device into the Device Driver folder.
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Setting Up Your MIDI Devices
Figure 1-3:
Choose
the default
MIDI Thru
instrument
for your
session.
3. Choose the MIDI device — as well as the channel you want to use to
play the MIDI data — from the Default Thru Instrument drop-down
menu.
4. Click OK.
Managing the MIDI Input filter
Use the MIDI Input filter to ignore certain MIDI data while recording. For
example, you can have Pro Tools ignore after-touch (extra pressure you place
on the keyboard keys to change the sound that’s playing) or pitch bend
(raising or lowering the pitch as the note plays) messages when you record
a drum part using your keyboard. This can be handy if you want to avoid
recording system exclusive data — that is, messages that are exclusive to the
device and not related to performance information — when recording a MIDI
performance.
To set the MIDI Input Filter parameters, follow these steps:
1. Choose Setup➪MIDI➪Input Filter from the main menu.
The MIDI Input Filter dialog box opens, as shown in Figure 1-4.
2. Select the Record options:
• All: Selecting All means that Pro Tools will record all the MIDI messages received.
Setting Up Your MIDI Devices
443
• Only: Selecting Only means that only the parameters that you select
in upcoming Step 3 are recorded.
Figure 1-4:
Choose
MIDI
parameters
to record
along with
your performance
data.
3. Depending on the mode you chose (see Step 2), select the check boxes
in the Channel Info and Controllers sections that correspond to what
you want to include or exclude from the recording process.
4. Depending on the choice you made in Step 2 and whether you want to
include any system-exclusive data in your recording, select or clear
the System Exclusive check box.
• If you choose All in Step 2: Selecting or clearing this check box doesn’t
matter because system-exclusive data is recorded either way.
• If you choose Only in Step 2: Selecting this check box means that
system exclusive data is recorded.
• If you choose All Except in Step 2: Selecting this check box means that
system-exclusive data is not recorded.
5. Click OK.
Quantizing your inputs
You can have Pro Tools automatically quantize your performance — that is,
adjust the position of each note’s timing so that it fits within a specified time
frame. This can be useful if you want the timing of your performance to fit a
selected grid exactly.
Preparing to Record
MIDI
• All Except: Selecting All Except sets your system to record all the
MIDI data it receives except for the check boxes that you select in
upcoming Step 3.
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Be careful with quantizing. Stop short of doing too much because sucking
the life out of a performance is very easy.
To quantize your input, follow these steps:
1. Choose Event➪MIDI➪Input Quantize from the main menu.
The Input Quantize dialog box opens, as shown in Figure 1-5.
Figure 1-5:
Automatically adjust
the timing
of your performance
while it’s
being
recorded.
2. Select the Enable Input Quantize check box to quantize and enter the
rest of the options/parameters in the dialog box.
Here’s a rundown on what each of these parameters mean:
From the What to Quantize section, choose the part of the note to
quantize:
• Attacks: This check box sets the quantization to the start of the
selected notes.
With Attacks selected, using the Preserve Note Duration option
keeps the end of the note intact.
• Releases: Selecting this check box quantizes the ends of the notes.
With Releases selected, the start of the note is left intact.
If both Attacks and Releases are selected, the Preserve Note Duration
option is dimmed.
• Preserve Note Duration: Selecting this check box produces different
results depending on whether you choose Attacks or Releases.
Setting Up Your MIDI Devices
445
The Quantize Grid section is where you choose the resolution of the
quantize grid, from whole notes to 64th notes.
• Tuplet: Select this check box to select odd note groupings, such as
triplets. When you enable this option, you need to fill in the tuplet
value. For example, to create a regular eighth-note triplet, choose 3
in Time 1; for a quarter-note triplet, choose 3 in Time 2.
• Offset Grid By: This field lets you move the quantize grid forward or
backward by the selected number of ticks. This is helpful for creating
grooves that lie slightly ahead or behind the beat.
• Randomize: This option adds a level of randomness to the quantizing
of your selection. This can further help with keeping your rhythm
from being too rigid. You can select values from 0–100%. Lower
values place the randomized notes closer to the grid.
In the Options section, you can include other options with your quantize
operation, including
• Swing: Select this check box to create a swing (a dotted quartereighth note triplet) feel. Use the slider to specify a percentage (from
0 to 300), with 100% being a triplet feel.
• Include Within: Selecting this check box only quantizes the notes that
fall within the boundaries created with this setting. Your setting
ranges are from 0–100%, with the smaller number affecting the narrower range of notes.
• Exclude Within: Selecting Exclude Within allows you to exclude any
notes within the boundaries set in this field. Like with Include Within,
you can set your boundaries from 0–100%.
• Strength: This is, in my opinion, the most useful function in the Pro
Tool’s quantize operation. Enabling this check box allows you to
move your quantized notes by a percentage rather than just snapping them right to the grid. Your setting range runs from 0–100%,
with the higher numbers keeping more strictly to the grid than
lower values.
3. Press Return/Enter to close the window.
Offsetting MIDI tracks
Pro Tools lets you offset your MIDI tracks to be a specified amount of time
in your session. This can be especially handy if you record your MIDI track
while listening to your sound device through the Digidesign interface; you
may notice some delay (also called latency) in the sound. This delay is the
result of the time it takes the sound to travel through the interface, into the
computer, and then back out the interface to your speakers. Depending on
Preparing to Record
MIDI
• Note Selector: From this drop-down menu, choose the note value of
your quantize grid. Click the note to select it.
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the Buffer setting you have in your session, this latency may be large enough
to bother you. (Book II, Chapter 3 has more on Buffer settings.)
The way around this problem is to offset your MIDI tracks by moving them
to a point earlier in your session by the amount of the delay. This makes Pro
Tools play the MIDI track(s) earlier so you can hear them on time.
To offset all your MIDI tracks, follow these steps:
1. Choose Setup➪Preferences from the main menu.
The Preferences dialog box opens.
2. Click the MIDI tab.
Refer to Figure 1-3 to see the MIDI tab of the Preferences dialog box.
3. Enter a negative number equal to your H/W buffer setting in the
Global MIDI Playback Offset field.
This offset amount uses samples (the individual snapshots of the audio
in your session) as the unit of measure.
4. Click OK.
Your specified offset will compensate for the latency.
To offset a single track, follow these steps:
1. Choose Event➪MIDI Track Offsets from the main menu.
The MIDI Track Offsets window opens.
2. On the row for the track you want to offset, double-click the Sample
Offset column.
The field is highlighted.
3. Enter the offset value in the Sample Offset column.
A negative number moves the track to an earlier point in the session; a
positive number moves it later. Enter a value equal to the H/W buffer setting (as described in Book II, Chapter 3).
4. Press Return/Enter to save the value and close the window.
Getting Ready to Record
Setting up MIDI and instrument tracks involves first creating the tracks for
your session and then setting the inputs, outputs, and MIDI channels for the
tracks you created. This section spells out how to do all these tasks.
Getting Ready to Record
447
Creating MIDI and instrument tracks
1. Choose Track➪New from the main menu.
The New Tracks dialog box appears, as shown in Figure 1-6.
2. Enter the number of tracks you want to create.
3. Select MIDI Track or Instrument Track from the drop-down menu.
4. If you select an instrument track, you also need to choose between
Mono or Stereo.
If the plug-in you plan on using is a multichannel plug-in or if you intend
to have any stereo information on it, I suggest choosing Stereo.
5. Click Create.
Your new track(s) appear in both the Edit and the Mix windows.
Figure 1-6:
Use the New
Tracks dialog
box to create
new MIDI
and instrument tracks.
When you create a new track, a default name is used — something not entirely
useful (like MIDI 1 or Inst 1). You can rename this track by following these steps:
1. Double-click the track name in the Edit window.
The track’s dialog box appears.
2. Type in the new name and add any comments about the track in the
appropriate fields.
3. Click OK to close the window.
Your track gets a (hopefully more helpful) new name.
Setting inputs, outputs, and MIDI channels
For MIDI and instrument tracks, like with audio tracks, you need to select the
input and output sources for your MIDI data to be able to record and play
Preparing to Record
MIDI
Of course, before you can manipulate a MIDI track, you have to have one. To
create a new MIDI track, follow these steps:
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Getting Ready to Record
back your tracks. Where MIDI tracks differ from audio tracks is that you also
need to set the MIDI channel(s) through which the MIDI data for each track
travels. You can set the inputs and outputs for your MIDI tracks in either the
Edit or the Mix window. If you want to set these in the Edit window, make sure
that you set up the window so that it displays the Input and Output sections.
To view the Input and Output sections on a MIDI track, choose View➪Mix
Window➪I/O View. To see the MIDI Input and Output section for instruments
tracks, choose View➪Mix Window➪Instruments.
To set the input on a MIDI or instrument track, follow these steps:
1. Click the MIDI Input Selector drop-down menu.
You find the selector in the Track Controls section of the Edit window
and above the track’s fader in the Mix window for MIDI tracks. In instrument tracks, you can find the MIDI input/output selector controls at the
top of the track’s channel strip in the Mix window. In the Edit window, it
will be to the right of the main track selection controls.
2. Drag through the menu to the MIDI device and channel you want.
3. Release your mouse button.
To set the output for your MIDI track, follow these steps:
1. Click the MIDI Output Selector drop-down menu.
You find the selector in the Track Controls section of the Edit window
and above the track’s fader in the Mix window.
2. Drag through the menu to the MIDI device and channel you want.
3. Release your mouse button.
With instrument tracks, you also need to choose a physical output to route
the audio signal created by your instrument track’s plug-in. Here’s how:
1. Click the Audio Output Selector drop-down menu.
You find the selector in the Track Controls section of the Edit window
and above the track’s fader in the Mix window.
2. Drag through the menu to the output device (bus or hardware) and
channel you want.
3. Release your mouse button.
You can assign multiple destinations for your MIDI tracks by pressing
Control (Mac) or Windows (PC) when you select your input and output
assignments.
Getting Ready to Record
449
Creating a click track
Click tracks (a metronome to play to) are useful for making sure that your
performance data lines up with the bars and beats of your session. Having
your MIDI line up allows you to do a variety of editing tasks much faster and
more accurately.
To create a click track, you need to set a tempo and a meter and then enable
the click in the Transport window. I cover the steps for these procedures in
the following sections.
Setting the tempo
To set the tempo and meter of your session, or a section within your session, do the following:
1. Disengage the Tempo Ruler Enable button in the expanded Transport
window. If the Tempo Ruler Enable button isn’t showing in the
Transport window, choose View➪Transport➪Expanded.
The little Conductor guy turns gray. If it’s already gray, leave it alone.
2. Double-click in the Tempo box in the expanded section of the
Transport window.
3. Type the tempo number you want and then press Return/Enter.
Your tempo is set.
Another way to change the tempo is to follow Step 1 in the preceding list and
then click and drag the slider located below the Tempo setting (see Figure
1-7) left or right to get to the tempo you want. Release your mouse button
when you get the correct tempo.
Figure 1-7:
Change the
tempo here.
Choosing the meter
You can set the meter for the session by doing the following:
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Preparing to Record
MIDI
Any devices and MIDI channels that are already assigned to another track
are listed in bold letters. This makes it easy to keep from accidentally
assigning two tracks to the same device and channels (although you can if
you want).
450
Getting Ready to Record
1. Double-click the Meter button in the expanded Transport window or
choose Window➪Show Tempo/Meter from the main menu.
Check out Book II, Chapter 4 for more on expanding the Transport
window.
The Tempo/Meter Change dialog box appears.
2. Choose Meter Change from the drop-down menu.
The Meter Change dialog box appears, as shown in Figure 1-8. It has the
following four parameters to adjust:
• Snap to Bar: Select this check box to have any meter events align to
the first beat in the nearest bar. (See the section on setting up tempo
and meter events in Book III, Chapter 3.)
• Location: The number you enter in this field determines the beginning of the meter (time signature) event. For songs with only one
time signature, you enter 1/1/000.
• Meter: Use these fields to type in the meter that you want to use.
• Click: From this menu, choose the note value for the clicks that are
played in each measure. Choosing a quarter note means you’ll hear
four clicks in a 4/4 measure.
Figure 1-8:
Designate
the meter in
the Meter
Change
dialog box.
Configuring your device
Of course, to play a click track in Pro Tools, you need a device to create the
sound (details, details). This can be an external MIDI sound module (such as
a drum machine or keyboard) or the DigiRack Click plug-in.
Follow these steps to configure the click-track device:
1. Choose Setup➪Click from the main menu or double-click the Click or
the Countoff button in the Transport window.
The Click/Countoff Options dialog box appears, as shown in Figure 1-9.
Getting Ready to Record
451
2. Use the Output drop-down menu to choose the device to play your
click.
3. Choose when you want the click to be played by selecting from the
options at the top of the window.
You can select During Play and Record, Only During Record, or Only
During Countoff.
4. Enter the MIDI note, velocity, and duration for the accented and unaccented notes of the click in the appropriate fields.
5. Select whether you want a countoff as well as the number of bars
you want.
Selecting Only During Record means that there’s no countoff when you
play back the track. If you select one of the other options and decide
that you still don’t want any countoff, type 0 bars in the Bars field.
Figure 1-9:
Configure
your click
track
device.
The next order of business is to enable your click track, which you can do in
one of two ways:
✦ Choose Setup➪Click from the main menu.
✦ Click the Click button in the MIDI section of the Transport window.
When Click is engaged, this button is blue.
You can engage the countoff by clicking the Countoff button in the MIDI
section of the Transport window. This button displays the number of
bars that the countoff is set for. This button is blue when it’s engaged.
Preparing to Record
MIDI
If you’re using an external device, choose the port and MIDI channel that
your device is connected to. If you’re using the Click plug-in, choose None.
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If you want to use the Click plug-in — rather than an external device — to
play the click, do the following:
If you haven’t completed Steps 1–5 in the preceding list and you want to use
the internal click track plug-in, you can simply choose Track➪Create Click
Track. Then you’re all set to go.
1. Create a new instrument track by choosing Track➪New from the main
menu or pressing Shift+Ô+N (Mac) or Shift+Ctrl+N (PC).
2. Use the Output selector to set the output of the track to the main outputs
(the outputs you use for your monitors, which are usually 1 and 2).
3. Make sure that the Inserts option is chosen under the Mix Window
Shows menu. (Choose View➪Mix Window to check.)
4. Choose Click from the Inserts drop-down menu (click and hold over
the arrow, and then choose Plug-In➪Instrument➪Click) for the track
you just created, as shown in Figure 1-10.
Your chosen click plays according to your choice in the Click/Countoff
Options dialog box.
Figure 1-10:
Choose the
Click
plug-in.
I usually use a drum machine or other decent drum sound from an external
device to create my click track. The Click plug-in, as handy as it is, doesn’t
have the most pleasing sound.
Chapter 2: Recording MIDI
In This Chapter
Recording MIDI performances
Playing back tracks
Understanding overdubbing
Recording system-exclusive data
R
ecording MIDI in Pro Tools is much like recording audio. The advantage with MIDI is that you record only the performance data and not
the sound itself. This allows you flexibility when choosing the sound that
you ultimately want for your song.
In this chapter, you discover how to record MIDI in Pro Tools. You walk
through enabling your tracks and recording your MIDI data. You also get a
chance to overdub by using punch and loop recording.
Instrument tracks can be used the same way as MIDI tracks by recording
MIDI information and passing it along to an instrument (in this case, by
inserting an instrument into the track), which plays the notes and creates
the sound.
Recording MIDI Performances
If you already read through Book III, Chapter 4, you pretty much know the
basics about recording MIDI performances because the process is very similar to recording audio tracks. The only significant difference is that you can
set your system to wait until it receives MIDI data before starting to record.
(This keeps you from having to click the Record button in the Transport
window.) The following sections detail how to record single or multiple MIDI
and instrument tracks.
Enabling recording for MIDI and instrument tracks
You can record-enable your MIDI and instrument tracks the same way you
enable recording for audio tracks. Let me count the ways:
✦ To record-enable a single track: Click the Record Enable button, which
you can find in either the track’s channel strip (in the Mix window) or
454
Recording MIDI Performances
the track menu (in the Edit window). The Record Enable button blinks
red to let you know it’s engaged.
✦ To record-enable all tracks: Option-click (Mac) or Alt-click (PC) the
Record Enable button on any track.
✦ To record-enable selected tracks: Shift-click to select the tracks you
want in the playlist and then Shift+Option-click (Mac) or Shift+Alt-click
(PC) the Record Enable button of one of the selected tracks.
Setting the Wait for Note option
One of the nice things about recording MIDI in Pro Tools is that you can set
your session to start recording only after it starts receiving MIDI data. This
feature — Wait for Note — allows you to make sure that your first note is
timed exactly where Record Start Time is set.
To enable the Wait for Note feature, do the following:
1. Set your Transport window to display MIDI controls by choosing
View➪Transport➪MIDI Controls from the main menu.
The Transport window expands to include MIDI controls.
2. Click the Wait for Note button to highlight it, as shown in Figure 2-1.
Figure 2-1:
Engage
Wait for
Note to start
recording
the instant a
MIDI note is
received.
The Wait for Note button
Recording MIDI tracks in Pro Tools requires that you get a few tasks out of
the way first. Namely, choose the Record mode, create a track, set levels,
enable recording, and turn on a click track (if you’re using one). Those steps
are all covered in detail in Book III, Chapter 3; when you’ve got ’em done,
you’re ready to record some MIDI.
The next sections give you a basic overview of what you can do at that
point: Record a single track or multiple tracks, undo or cancel takes, record
additional takes and audition takes, use playlists to organize the whole mess,
or choose some takes to listen to.
Recording MIDI Performances
455
Monitoring MIDI inputs
To monitor your MIDI device through Pro Tools, do the following:
1. Connect the analog output of your MIDI device to one of the analog
inputs in your Digidesign hardware.
2. Choose Track➪New from the main menu.
The New Tracks dialog box appears.
3. Use the drop-down menus of the dialog box to enter the number of
tracks you want (1), the type (Audio), and whether you want your
track in mono or stereo. Click Create.
4. Using the new track’s Input selector, select the analog input that your
device is connected to in your Digidesign interface.
5. Using the new track’s Output selector, select the main outputs for your
session.
6. Record-enable this track by clicking the Record Enable button in
either the track’s channel strip (Mix window) or the track menu (Edit
window).
You should hear the sound coming from your MIDI device while you play
your MIDI performance.
Hearing instrument tracks
Instrument tracks, because they are a hybrid of MIDI and Auxiliary Input
tracks, are easier to set up to hear what you’re playing: All you need to do
is set an output in the audio out section of the track. You do this the following way:
1. Choose View➪Edit Window➪I/O from the main menu to open the I/O
section of the Edit window.
The I/O section shows the inputs and outputs for each track.
2. Within the I/O section of your track in the Edit window, click and hold
the Output selector until the Output drop-down menu appears.
3. While still holding down your mouse button, move the mouse over the
Output menu until it rests on the output listing you want.
Recording MIDI
Even after you get your MIDI devices all hooked up and record-enabled, you
still won’t hear what you’re playing unless you make some connection to
the analog outputs of your MIDI device and route them to an audio track in
Pro Tools.
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Playing Back Your Tracks
4. Release the mouse button to select your choice from the Output dropdown menu.
This menu closes, and the output you selected appears in the Output
selector.
Recording MIDI and instrument tracks
After you record-enable your MIDI and instrument track(s) (see the “Enabling
recording for MIDI and instrument tracks” section, earlier in this chapter), you
can begin recording. Follow these steps to record one or more MIDI tracks:
1. Click the Record Enable button located in either the track channel
strip (Mix window) or track menu (Edit window) to record-enable the
track(s).
2. Using the channel strips located in the Mix window, set the level of
the instruments in your session using the fader for each audio track
associated with your MIDI devices.
This is so you hear your music the way you want.
3. Enable the click track and the pre-roll, if you’re using them.
4. Click the Return to Zero button in the Transport section of the
Transport window.
Doing so ensures that you start recording at the beginning of the session.
5. Click the Record button in the Transport section of the Transport
window.
This step gets you ready to record; it doesn’t start the actual recording
process.
6. Click the Play button in the Transport section of the Transport window.
Pro Tools starts recording.
7. When you’re done recording, click the Stop button in the Transport section of the Transport window or press the spacebar on your keyboard.
The finished take appears in the MIDI Regions list as a new region.
Playing Back Your Tracks
After you record a track, you’ll most likely want to listen to it to make sure
that it sounds how you want. Pro Tools offers you many ways to play back a
track. In the following sections, I guide you through a few of the many
options for playing back audio regions.
Playing Back Your Tracks
457
Playing recorded tracks
Setting scrolling options
Pro Tools lets you decide how you want the Edit window to scroll when a
session is playing or recording. Just choose Options➪Scrolling from the
main menu to see the choices displayed in Figure 2-2. The following list gives
you the scoop on each option:
✦ No Scrolling: With you choose this, the Edit window remains where it while
as the session plays. You can still move through the session by manually
sliding the scroll bar at the bottom of the window while the session plays.
✦ After Playback: Choosing this takes you to where the cursor is located
after the session is stopped.
✦ Page: Page scrolling during playback keeps the cursor visible at all times
while the session plays. The cursor moves from left to right, and the Edit
window follows gamely along (just like Little Bo Peep’s sheep).
This is the option I generally choose because I can easily keep track of
where I am in the session at all times.
Figure 2-2:
You can set
the Edit
window to
scroll three
different
ways.
Recording MIDI
After you record a track and click the Stop button, you can immediately hear
the track by toggling off the Record Enable button on your MIDI tracks —
click it to make the red light disappear — and then clicking the Play button.
Leave the audio tracks associated with the MIDI devices in record-enable
mode so that you hear the playback of the MIDI device from the recorded
MIDI data instead of the recorded audio that was recorded to that track
when you recorded your performance. You can adjust the volume by moving
the fader up and down in the channel strip for the audio track associated
with your MIDI device.
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Playing Back Your Tracks
Changing sounds
One of the great features of recording MIDI data is that you can change the
sound that the recorded performance plays. This lets you decide what
sound you use in your song after you played the part.
MIDI tracks
You can change the playback sound of a recorded MIDI track one of two ways:
✦ Change the MIDI device or channel. Click the Output selector for the
MIDI track and scroll to a different MIDI channel or MIDI device.
✦ Change the MIDI patch. Open the Patch drop-down menu located in the
Track Controls section of the Edit window, as shown in Figure 2-3. After
the Patch dialog box opens, as shown in Figure 2-4, choose a patch from
the list and then click Done to close the window.
Click here to open the Patch drop-down menu.
Figure 2-3:
The MIDI
Patch dropdown menu
is located in
the Track
Control
section of
the Edit
menu.
Figure 2-4:
Use the
Patch dialog
box to
choose a
different
patch for
your MIDI
device.
Instrument tracks
Because instrument tracks are a hybrid between a MIDI track and an Auxiliary
input track, you make changes to the sound your track plays differently.
Here’s how to change the sound from an instrument track:
Getting Rid of Unwanted Takes
459
1. Double-click the plug-in in the Insert section of either the Edit or Mix
window.
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Chapter 2
This opens a window for the software instrument.
like the sound.
3. Close the software instrument’s window.
To change the software instrument connected to your instrument track, do
the following:
1. Click and hold the Insert selector for the inserted software instrument
and drag to another instrument (assuming you have one to choose from).
2. Release the mouse button.
The window for your new software instrument opens.
3. Choose the settings you want for your new instrument.
4. Close the window.
Getting Rid of Unwanted Takes
If you have a take (a recorded performance) that you don’t particularly like,
you can get rid of it several different ways. You can cancel the take while
you’re recording, you can undo the take after you record, or you can clear
the audio region from the Audio Regions list. All these options are detailed in
the following sections.
Canceling your performance
Canceling a performance is handy when you’re in the middle of recording, and
you know that you’re not going to keep the take. To cancel a performance,
simply press Ô+. (period; Mac) or Ctrl+. (period; PC). This stops the session
and clears the audio region created for this take with two keystrokes.
Undoing your take
If you already stopped recording and you know you don’t want to keep your
latest try, you can undo the take by choosing Edit➪Undo MIDI Recording
from the main menu (as shown in Figure 2-5), or by pressing Ô+Z (Mac) or
Ctrl+Z (PC).
If you punch in more than once before you stopped the recording, only the
last punch is undone. The rest of the punches remain. (Read more about this
in the upcoming section, “Punching in and out.”)
Recording MIDI
2. Make any adjustments you want to the software instrument until you
460
Overdubbing MIDI Performances
When you use Loop record mode, all the takes from the loop sequence are
undone.
Figure 2-5:
You can
undo a take
by choosing Edit➪
Undo MIDI
Recording.
Clearing the file from the Regions list
After hearing a few of your takes, maybe you want to get rid of one or more
of them. Just clear the offending takes from the Regions list. Here’s how to
get that done:
1. Highlight the region you want to get rid of in the Regions list by
clicking it.
The Regions list is located in the lower-right corner of the Edit window.
If this section of the Edit window isn’t visible, click the double arrow at
the bottom-right corner of the Edit window to expand it.
2. Click and hold the Regions list title at the top of the list to access the
Regions drop-down menu and then choose Clear Selected (as shown
in Figure 2-6), or press Shift+Ô+B (Mac) or Shift+Ctrl+B (PC).
To select more than one region to clear, hold the Shift key while you
click each region.
Overdubbing MIDI Performances
After you have some MIDI performances recorded, you can add to or change
them easily. The time-honored name for this kind of recording is overdubbing,
Overdubbing MIDI Performances
461
Figure 2-6:
Get rid of a
selected
MIDI region.
Using MIDI Merge/Replace
When you overdub to a MIDI track, Pro Tools offers you the option to either
replace existing material or add new data to it. Which option you use
depends on the position of the MIDI Merge button located in the Transport
window (as shown in Figure 2-7):
✦ When the button is engaged (MIDI Merge mode): New material is
merged with any existing MIDI data on the record-enabled track(s).
✦ When the button is disengaged (MIDI Replace mode): New MIDI data
replaces any existing information on record-enabled track(s).
Figure 2-7:
Engage the
MIDI Merge
button to
add new
performance data.
The MIDI Merge button
To engage MIDI Merge, do the following:
1. Open the MIDI controls section of the Transport window by choosing
View➪Transport➪MIDI Controls from the main menu.
The Transport window expands to include the MIDI controls section.
2. Click the MIDI Merge button.
The button becomes highlighted.
Book V
Chapter 2
Recording MIDI
but MIDI takes it to a whole new level. In Pro Tools, you can overdub MIDI in
several ways: You can punch in or out, loop, and either merge (that is, add)
new data or replace existing performance information. The following sections get you up to speed on these procedures.
462
Overdubbing MIDI Performances
Punching in and out
If you like some of your initial take and want to record over only part of it,
you can set points at which to start and stop recording within the session:
that is, punching in and out. Punching in or out of a track involves first setting a start and an end point. This can be done several ways; the next sections give you the details.
Using the Start/End fields in the Transport section
of the Transport window
This method is pretty straightforward. To set your start and end points via
the Transport section, do the following:
1. Choose View➪Transport➪Expanded from the main menu to get a
nice, big view of the window.
2. Click in the Start field in the Transport section of the Transport
window, type in the beginning of the punch section you want, and
then press Return/Enter.
This field displays in the same format as the main counter. In the case of
Figure 2-8, the format is Bars and Beats.
3. Click in the End field, type in the end of the range, and then press
Return/Enter.
This field is displayed as well in the format selected for the main counter
(like in Figure 2-8).
Figure 2-8:
Type the
start and
end points
to set your
punch
range.
Selecting a section of a track’s playlist
For those of you out there who are especially handy with a mouse, this
method may have some appeal:
1. Make sure that the Link Edit and Timeline Selection option is chosen
under the Options menu.
Overdubbing MIDI Performances
463
2. Using the Selector tool, click and drag a recorded range in your track,
as shown in Figure 2-9.
Figure 2-9:
Drag to
select a
recorded
range from
a track’s
playlist.
Dragging the start and end point markers along the ruler bar
The start and end point markers are displayed along the Timeline in the Edit
window as up and down arrows — down for punch in and up for punch out.
The arrows are blue when no tracks are record-enabled and red when one or
more tracks are record-enabled. Setting start and end points in the Timeline
consists of these steps:
1. Make sure that the Link Edit and Timeline Selections is chosen under
the Options menu.
2. Select the Grid edit mode (click on the Grid mode selector in the
upper left of the Edit window) if you want the markers to snap to the
grid. Otherwise, use any other Edit mode.
3. Click and drag the Start and End Point arrows to where you want
them, as shown in Figure 2-10.
Figure 2-10:
Set a punch
range by
dragging the
Start and
End Point
arrows.
Recording MIDI
The section becomes highlighted, and the session start and end points
are set to match the beginning and ending of this selection.
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Overdubbing MIDI Performances
Performing the punch
After you designate the start and end points of your punch-in-and-out range,
you can record to that section by doing the following:
1. Set and enable a pre-roll.
Doing so enables you to hear the previously recorded track before
the punch-in happens. Here’s the quick drill. (See Book III, Chapter 4
for details.)
a. Click the Pre-Roll field in the expanded version of the Transport
window and type in a pre-roll time. (Choose View➪Transport➪
Expanded if you need to expand the window.)
b. Click the Pre-Roll button in the expanded version of the Transport
window to enable the pre-roll function.
2. Set and enable a post-roll.
Doing so lets you hear how your punch fits in with your previously
recorded track. Here’s the quick drill. (See Book III, Chapter 4 for
details.)
a. Click the Post-Roll field in the expanded version of the Transport
window and type in a pre-roll time. (Choose View➪Transport➪
Expanded if you need to expand the window.)
b. Click the Post-Roll button in the expanded version of the Transport
window to enable the post-roll function.
3. Choose the nondestructive record mode by making sure that destructive, loop, and quick-punch modes are disabled in the Options menu.
4. Choose either MIDI Merge or MIDI Replace mode.
See the “Using MIDI Merge/Replace” section, earlier in the chapter, for
more on MIDI Merge/Replace.
5. Click the Record Enable button in either the track’s channel strip
(Mix window) or the track menu (Edit window).
The track is record-enabled.
6. Click the Record button in the Transport section of the Transport
window.
The Record button flashes red.
7. Click the Play button in the Transport section of the Transport
window when you’re ready to record.
The session starts at the pre-roll time, the Record button flashes red,
and you hear the previously recorded track until the pre-roll is over. The
Overdubbing MIDI Performances
465
Punching MIDI on the fly
With MIDI, you can punch in and out of a track while the session plays. This
is punching on the fly and is especially effective if you have an interface with
a footswitch input (such as the 003 or 003 Rack) and a footswitch connected
to the footswitch input on your interface.
Here’s how to punch on the fly:
1. Choose the nondestructive record mode by making sure that destructive, loop, and quick-punch modes are disabled in the Options menu.
2. Select either MIDI Merge or MIDI Replace mode.
See the “Using MIDI Merge/Replace” section, earlier in the chapter, for
more on MIDI Merge/Replace.
3. Disable the Wait for Note and Countoff options in the Transport
window.
4. Click the Record Enable button in either the track’s channel strip (Mix
window) or the track menu (Edit window).
The track is record-enabled.
5. Click the Play button in the Transport section of the Transport
window.
The session plays.
6. When you reach the point where you want to start recording in the
session, click the Record button or press the footswitch.
The punch begins.
7. Play what you want.
8. When you reach the point that you want to stop recording, click the
Record button or press the footswitch again.
Recording stops, but the session continues playing — and, with any
luck, seamlessly.
Book V
Chapter 2
Recording MIDI
monitoring then switches to the Input source and the Record button
stops flashing (but remains red). After you hit the end of the record
range, the session stops playing, or (if you enabled a post-roll) the
recording stops. If the recording stops to accommodate a post-roll, the
Record button starts flashing again. The monitoring then switches back
to the recorded region until the end of the post-roll period. When the
post-roll is done, the session stops playing.
466
Overdubbing MIDI Performances
Loop recording
Use loop recording to choose a section of the song to repeatedly record over.
This makes it easy to try a bunch of takes without having to manually start
and stop every time you go through the section. Loop recording can be done
a bunch of ways. I described two of ’em in the Audio Recording chapters
(Book III, Chapters 3 and 4), but I prefer using MIDI Merge mode to looprecord MIDI. (Makes sense, doesn’t it?)
To loop-record using MIDI Merge mode, do the following:
1. Choose the nondestructive record mode by making sure that destructive, loop, and quick-punch modes are disabled in the Options menu.
2. Enable MIDI Merge mode.
The button becomes highlighted.
3. Disable the Wait for Note and Countoff options in the Transport section of the Transport window.
4. Enable the Link Edit and Timeline Selection option in the Options
menu.
5. Choose the Selector tool in the Edit window.
6. Click and drag across the section of the track that you want to record
over.
7. (Optional) Click in the Pre-Roll field in the expanded Transport
window and type in a pre-roll time. Click the Pre-Roll button in the
Transport window to enable the pre-roll function.
Choose View➪Transport➪Expanded if you need to expand the window.
If you don’t want to hear a section of the session before the loop begins,
skip this step.
8. Click the Record Enable button located in either the track channel
strip (Mix window) or track menu (Edit window) to record enable
the track.
9. Select Loop Record mode.
You have three ways to make this selection:
• Check the Loop Record option under the Options menu.
• Press Option+L (Mac) or Alt+L (PC).
• Control-click (Mac) or right-click (PC) the Record button in the
Transport window until the Loop Record icon shows up.
Recording System-Exclusive Data
467
10. Click Play in the Transport section of the Transport window to start
recording.
11. Click Stop when you finish recording.
If you designated a pre-roll, it only happens before the first time through the
loop. After that, the loop goes from start point to end point, back to the start
point, and so on, as many times as needed.
If you loop-record using the Loop Record mode without engaging MIDI Merge,
you create a new region in the MIDI Regions list each time you go through
the loop. This is in contrast to loop-recording audio tracks, in which all the
takes are stored in one audio file.
Recording System-Exclusive Data
In Pro Tools, you can record system-exclusive data — data that is unique
to your MIDI device — to a MIDI track. That means that you can record
changes made to your patches (prepared sounds selected from a sound
bank) to your configuration as well as any real-time changes in the system.
For example, you can record patch changes so that your MIDI device changes
its sound while the session plays (from, say, a Chainsaw patch to a Bagpipe
patch). You can also store the parameter settings for a device and have Pro
Tools automatically restore those settings to your device before your session plays.
To record system-exclusive data to a MIDI track in Pro Tools, do the following:
1. Connect the MIDI Out of your device to one of the MIDI In ports configured in Pro Tools.
2. Choose Track➪New from the main menu.
The New Track dialog box appears.
3. Use the drop-down menus of the dialog box to enter the number of
tracks you want (1), the type (MIDI), and whether you want your track
in samples or ticks. Click Create.
4. Using the new track’s Input selector, set the input of the track to the
MIDI In port that’s connected to your device.
Recording MIDI
While the recording is under way, the new MIDI data appears in the track
as a new region (and in the MIDI Regions list) but doesn’t replace the
previously recorded material.
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468
Recording System-Exclusive Data
5. Choose the non-destructive record mode by making sure that destructive, loop, and quick-punch modes are disabled in the Options menu.
6. Choose Setup➪MIDI➪Input Filter from the main menu.
The MIDI Input Filter dialog box appears.
7. Enable system-exclusive recording by selecting the System Exclusive
check box in the MIDI Input Filter dialog box.
8. Enable the Wait for Note function in the Transport window.
9. Click the Return to Zero button in the Transport window to return to
the beginning of the session.
10. Click the Record Enable button in either the track’s channel strip (Mix
window) or the track menu (Edit window).
The track is record-enabled.
11. Click the Record button in the Transport section of the Transport
window.
The Record, Play, and Wait for Note buttons flash.
12. Initiate the MIDI dump on your MIDI Device.
Check your MIDI device’s manual to figure how this is done; it’s different
for every device.
The transfer begins.
13. Click Stop when the transfer is finished.
To send system-exclusive data back to your device, do the following:
1. Make sure that the MIDI Out port of your MIDI interface is connected
to the MIDI In port of your device.
2. Using the Output selector of the MIDI track that has the systemexclusive data, set the output to the MIDI port that’s connected to
your device.
3. Set your device to receive system-exclusive data.
You might need to check your owner’s manual for details on how to
do this.
4. Click the Return to Zero button in the Transport section of the
Transport window to return the session to the beginning.
5. Click Play in the Transport window.
The session plays, and the system-exclusive data is received.
6. Click Stop when the transfer is complete.
Chapter 3: Editing MIDI Data
In This Chapter
Understanding MIDI and instrument track views
Selecting MIDI data
Editing in the Edit window
Understanding the MIDI Event window
A
lthough MIDI editing in Pro Tools isn’t as elaborate as what you find in
some programs (such as Logic or Sonar), it’s plenty powerful enough
to tweak your MIDI data quite a bit. If your overall MIDI needs are moderate,
the relatively simple Pro Tools MIDI features can do what you need with
minimum fuss.
In this chapter, you explore the MIDI-editing functions available to you in
Pro Tools. You examine the many uses of the Pencil tool, discovering ways
to edit MIDI notes, controller data, and system-exclusive messages.
Working with MIDI and Instrument Tracks
Working with MIDI and instrument tracks is almost the same as working
with audio tracks. (The latter are covered in great detail in Book IV,
Chapters 1 and 2.) The following sections explain track views, selecting MIDI
data, understanding regions, and setting default program changes.
Taking a look at track views
You can adjust the track view for MIDI and Instrument tracks by clicking the
Track View selector in the Track Controls section of the Edit window, as
shown in Figure 3-1. The track views for MIDI and Instrument tracks include
the following options:
✦ Blocks: In Blocks view, regions are displayed as blocks, each showing
only the region name. This view takes up the least amount of processing
power to show and redraw, which makes this the best option after all
your editing is done and you’re ready to start mixing.
470
Working with MIDI and Instrument Tracks
Figure 3-1:
Use the
MIDI
Track View
selector
to choose
between
track views.
✦ Regions: Regions view shows the regions in the track, also displaying
notes in the track in the piano-roll fashion that you can see in Figure 3-2.
The notes can’t be edited, but the regions can be. This view is useful
when you want to move or edit the regions in your track.
When you edit in Regions view on a MIDI or Instrument track, you edit
continuous controller events (volume, pitch bend, after-touch — see
Book V, Chapter 2) along with the region because such events are connected to the region and not to the track’s playlist.
Figure 3-2:
The Regions
view shows
MIDI regions
for the track.
✦ Notes: Using Notes view displays the location, pitch, and duration of the
notes in the track in piano-roll format (as shown in Figure 3-3). You can
edit or insert MIDI notes in this view.
MIDI notes are shown as small rectangles. The horizontal range represents the location and duration of the note; the vertical placement
shows the note’s pitch.
Along the left side of the track’s playlist is a representation of a keyboard with up and down arrows, which allow you to scroll through the
octaves of the notes. This is necessary because not all the possible MIDI
notes can be displayed in the track’s playlist at one time. A single line at
the top or bottom of the track display designates any notes that can’t be
displayed (because they’re above or below the octave being displayed).
You can also scroll through the octaves in the playlist by using the
Grabber tool and dragging the piano-roll display up and down.
Working with MIDI and Instrument Tracks
471
Book V
Chapter 3
Editing MIDI Data
Figure 3-3:
Notes view
is where
you edit
notes for a
MIDI or
Instrument
track.
✦ Velocity: This view displays — and allows you to edit — velocity (note
volume) settings for each note in the track. (You can still see the pianoroll data in the background.)
✦ Volume: Volume view shows automation volume curves with breakpoints —
markers that show shifts in the automation level — displayed as dots
along the line. Note data, in piano-roll format, is shown in the background.
In this view, you can edit the volume data but not the underlying notes.
✦ Pan: This view displays and allows you to adjust panning automation
data (far left at the top and far right at the bottom) with the piano-roll
display in the background.
✦ Mute: This view shows mute automation settings for the track and
allows you to mute or unmute the track. Note data, in piano-roll format,
is shown in the background.
✦ Pitch Bend: Pitch Bend view shows any pitch bend data in the track as a
line graph with editable breakpoints. The piano-roll data is shown in the
background but can’t be edited.
✦ Mono After Touch: This view shows after-touch data — the velocity of
the note after the initial touch of the keyboard — as a line graph with
editable breakpoints. The piano-roll data is shown in the background to
help you know where you are in the session.
✦ Program Change: This view displays program-change information for
the track with the piano-roll data in the background (uneditable, of
course). Use this view to add or edit program-change events.
✦ Sysex: This view shows system-exclusive data — messages exclusive to
the MIDI device — for the track.
✦ Controller: This view shows continuous controller data, such as modulation wheel, breath controller, foot control, and sustain with the pianoroll data in the background. Use this view to add or edit continuous
controller data for your track.
472
Working with MIDI and Instrument Tracks
You can toggle between the two most-used MIDI track views: Regions and
Notes. Do this by pressing Control (Mac) or Windows (PC) while you press
the minus key on the main section of the keyboard. Or, simply press the
minus key (from the main keyboard, not the number pad) after engaging the
Command Keyboard Focus button. (See Book II, Chapter 4, for more on the
Command Keyboard Focus feature.)
Selecting track material
You can select track material the same way you select material from audio
tracks — well, okay, with a few variations. The following sections tell you
about those variations; Book IV, Chapter 2 covers the selection stuff about
audio tracks that’s perfectly applicable to MIDI and Instrument tracks. (You
may want to skim through Book IV, Chapter 2 to refresh your memory about
selection basics.)
MIDI notes are selected from Notes view; regions are selected from Regions
view.
Selecting notes with the Pencil tool
You select notes with the Pencil tool by clicking the notes. (No big deal,
right?) To select more than one note, press the Shift key while you click each
note. Selected notes become highlighted.
Using the Selector tool
When you use the Selector tool to select notes, certain conditions apply.
They’re pretty straightforward:
✦ Before a note can be included in a selection, its start point must be in
the selection range.
In Figure 3-4, for example, the note whose start point begins before the
selection range is not selected. (You can tell it’s not selected because it’s
not highlighted.)
✦ Notes with end points outside the selection range are still selected.
✦ When you select notes with the Selector tool, you also select (automatically) all the underlying automation and controller data pertaining to
the notes.
Grabbing with the Grabber tool
When you select a series of notes with the Grabber tool, all notes partially
or fully contained in the Grabber selection are selected, as shown in Figure
3-5. Notes selected with the Grabber tool don’t include automation or controller data.
Working with MIDI and Instrument Tracks
473
Book V
Chapter 3
Editing MIDI Data
Figure 3-4:
The Selector
tool selects
notes only if
the start time
is included in
the selection
range.
Figure 3-5:
The Grabber
tool selects
notes
whenever
any part
of the note
is in the
selection.
Selecting notes from the mini keyboard
You can select all the notes in a track that have the same pitch by clicking
the represented MIDI note in the mini keyboard, which is located along the
left side of the track’s playlist display, as shown in Figure 3-6.
Figure 3-6:
Select notes
of a desired
pitch from
the minikeyboard.
Recognizing regions
The procedures for working with MIDI regions are the same as those for audio
regions. Book IV, Chapter 1 describes how to select and view regions in a
track’s playlist, as well as how to work with regions in the Regions list. The procedures for working with the MIDI Regions list are the same as those for working with the Regions list, so if you check out Book IV, Chapter 1, you’re all set.
474
Dealing with Note Chasing
Setting MIDI patches on tracks
You can change the default program (sound patch) in use with your MIDI
tracks so your MIDI device automatically resets to the program you want for
your track. Here’s how to make it happen:
1. Click the Program button in the Track Controls section of the Edit
window, as shown in Figure 3-7.
The Patch Select dialog box opens.
Figure 3-7:
The Program
button is
located in
the Track
Controls.
2. Click the patch number or name that you want from the list in the
main section of the dialog box.
It becomes highlighted.
Depending on your MIDI device, you might need to specify a bank
along with the patch number. The bank number is entered in one of the
Controller fields at the top of the dialog box. Check the specification
for your device to see what to enter in this field.
3. Click Done.
The Patch Select dialog box closes, and the patch number/name is displayed on the Program button of the Track Controls section.
You can have Pro Tools automatically scroll through the patches in your
MIDI sound module by selecting the Incremental Patch option in the Patch
Select dialog box and entering a value for the number of seconds that each
patch sounds as your session plays.
Dealing with Note Chasing
Note chasing makes sure that when you start your session in the middle of a
long MIDI note, the note is played. This is useful when you want to start and
Editing MIDI in the Edit Window
475
stop the session from anywhere and still be able to hear the notes that are
recorded.
To turn on and off Note Chasing, do the following:
1. Click the track’s Playlist selector, located in the Track Controls section
of the Edit window.
The selector is the arrow to the right of the name of the track.
The Track Playlist drop-down menu opens with an option for engaging
note chasing in the track.
2. Choose Note Chasing from the Track Playlist menu.
You deselect (uncheck) to turn the Note Chasing feature off and select
(check) to turn it on.
Editing MIDI in the Edit Window
Like with audio, you do most of your MIDI editing from the Edit window. The
process, again, is very similar to editing audio (described in Book IV,
Chapters 1–3). The following sections offer some tips and tricks tailored to
inserting, deleting, and editing MIDI data. For the most part, though, I discuss the amazing Pencil tool, the Smart tool, and the Grabber tool.
If your MIDI region exists in only one location (that is, it’s not shared with other
tracks or sessions), any changes you make to the data in that region change it
permanently. To ensure that you don’t lose important data while editing (or if
you want to be able to return to the original), make a copy of the playlist and
work from there. (I explain playlists in detail in Book IV, Chapter 1.)
Perusing the Pencil tools
Pro Tools offers seven Pencil tools — Free Hand, Line, Triangle, Square,
Random, Parabolic, and S-Curve — that you can use to create and edit MIDI
data easily with your mouse. You select these tools by clicking and holding
the Pencil Tool icon and then choosing from the drop-down menu that
appears, as shown in Figure 3-8. Each tool can be used to add notes and
draw velocity and controller data, but each one works a little differently, as
the following sections make clear.
Editing MIDI Data
The Note Chasing feature is turned on by default, but you might want to turn
it off on any tracks that play loops to ensure that the loop doesn’t get out of
sync when you start and stop the session in the middle of its sequence.
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476
Editing MIDI in the Edit Window
Figure 3-8:
Pencil tools
in seven
shapes for
creating and
editing MIDI
data.
Free Hand
When you insert notes, here’s what happens:
✦ You can place them anywhere you want and drag your mouse to specify the duration you want the note to be.
✦ If you simply click with the Free Hand Pencil tool to insert a note, the
note duration is equal to the grid value for your session. (Grid values
are boundaries you can set for your session and are set in the Grid Value
drop-down menu, located just below the Pencil Tool button in the Edit
window.)
✦ Note velocity is determined by the setting you have in the MIDI tab of
the Preferences dialog box. Choose Setup➪Preferences to access the
Preferences dialog box.
When you draw velocity or continuous controller data, here’s what happens:
✦ You can draw any shape you want with your mouse.
✦ The resolution of the lines is determined by the settings you’ve
chosen for controller data in the MIDI tab of the Preferences
dialog box. Choose Setup➪Preferences to access the Preferences
dialog box.
Line
When you insert notes, here’s what you get:
✦ You can place as many notes as you want as a single pitch.
The note duration is equal to the current grid value in your session.
✦ The note velocity is determined by the setting you have on the MIDI
tab of the Preferences dialog box.
Editing MIDI in the Edit Window
477
When you draw velocity or continuous controller data, these conditions
apply:
✦ The resolution of the lines is determined by the settings you choose
for controller data on the MIDI tab of the Preferences dialog box.
Triangle
When you insert notes, three conditions apply:
✦ You can place as many notes as you want as a single pitch.
The note duration is equal to the current grid value in your session.
✦ The note velocity oscillates between the setting you have for Note
on Velocity on the MIDI tab of the Preferences dialog box and 127
(maximum level).
When you draw velocity or continuous controller data, here’s what you see:
✦ The line is a triangular pattern, which changes direction according to
the current grid value in your session.
✦ The resolution of the lines is determined by the settings for controller
data you chose on the MIDI tab of the Preferences dialog box.
Square
When you insert notes, here’s the skinny:
✦ You can place as many notes as you want as a single pitch.
The note duration is equal to the current grid value in your session.
✦ The note velocity alternates between the setting you have for Note on
Velocity on the MIDI tab of the Preferences dialog box and 127 (the
maximum level).
When you draw velocity or continuous controller data, it works this way:
✦ The line is a square pattern, which repeats according to the current
grid value in your session.
✦ The resolution of the lines is determined by the settings you chose for
controller data on the MIDI tab of the Preferences dialog box.
Editing MIDI Data
✦ The line is straight from the initial mouse click through the drag and
release.
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Editing MIDI in the Edit Window
Random
When you insert notes, here’s what you get:
✦ You can place as many notes as you want as a single pitch.
The note duration is equal to the current grid value in your session.
✦ The note velocity changes randomly between the setting you have for
Note on Velocity on the MIDI tab of the Preferences dialog box and
127 (maximum level).
When you draw velocity or continuous controller data, the line is a random
pattern, which changes value according to the current grid value in your
session.
Custom note duration
When you insert a note by using one of Pencil tools and you want a different
value than the grid setting in your session, you can choose the Custom Note
Duration option, which is located at the bottom of the Pencil tool drop-down
menu. Enabling this option adds the Notes button shown here in the margin
beneath the Pencil Tool icon on the Edit Window toolbar.
The Custom Note Duration option lets you specify a note duration other
than your current grid setting.
To choose a custom note duration when you’re inserting a MIDI note, do the
following:
1. Click and hold the Pencil icon in the Edit window toolbar.
The Pencil tool drop-down menu appears.
2. Choose Custom Note Duration from the Pencil tool drop-down menu.
The Notes button appears beneath the Pencil icon on the Edit Window
toolbar.
3. Choose which Pencil tool you want to use from the drop-down menu.
4. Using the Notes button beneath the Pencil Tool button, choose a note
duration.
5. Using the Pencil tool you select in Step 3, insert the note in your track.
Adding MIDI events
You can add MIDI notes or controller data (collectively called MIDI events) to
a MIDI or Instrument track by using the Pencil tool. (See the preceding section for more about the Pencil tools.)
Editing MIDI in the Edit Window
479
Inserting notes
To use the Pencil tool to insert a note, do the following:
of the Edit Window, set the track view to Notes.
2. Click and hold the Pencil icon and then choose the Pencil tool you
want to use from the Pencil Tool drop-down menu that appears.
3. Locate the place you want to add your MIDI note in the track’s playlist
area.
4. With the Pencil tool you select in Step 2, click in the playlist to insert
a note with a duration equal to the grid value.
When you use the Free Hand tool, you can set the note to whatever duration
you want. Do so by clicking the start point of the note in the track’s playlist,
dragging to the end point you want, and then releasing the mouse button.
If you want to hear the MIDI note while you insert it, first make sure that you
have the Play MIDI Notes When Editing preference chosen on the MIDI tab
of the Preferences dialog box. (Choose Setup➪Preferences to access this
dialog box.)
If you have Grid mode enabled as your editing mode, the inserted note is
snapped to the nearest grid boundary. To disable this function, press Ô
(Mac) or Ctrl (PC) when you insert the note. (Book IV, Chapter 1 has more
on editing modes.)
Drawing velocity or continuous controller data
To draw velocity or continuous controller data in a track’s playlist, do the
following:
1. From the Track View drop-down menu in the Track Controls section
of the Edit Window, set the track to Velocity or Controller view.
2. Click and hold the Pencil icon and then choose the Pencil tool you
want to use from the menu that appears.
3. Locate where you want to enter your MIDI data in the track’s playlist.
4. With the Pencil tool you choose in Step 2, click and drag in the track’s
playlist to sketch in the velocity or the controller level you want to
draw.
5. Release the mouse button when you reach the end point of your edit.
Editing MIDI Data
1. From the Track View drop-down menu in the Track Controls section
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Inserting program changes
To insert MIDI program changes, do the following:
1. From the Track View drop-down menu, set the track to Program
Change view.
2. Click and hold the Pencil icon and then choose the Pencil tool you
want to use from the menu that appears.
3. Click in the track’s playlist where you want the change to occur.
The Patch Select dialog box opens.
4. Click the patch number or name in the main section of the dialog box
to select it.
5. Click Done.
The program change is inserted, as shown in Figure 3-9.
Figure 3-9:
A programchange
event
appears in
the track’s
playlist in
Program
Change
view.
Deleting MIDI data
You can delete MIDI notes and other data several ways. The following sections detail the process.
Deleting a MIDI note
To delete a MIDI note, do the following:
1. From the Track View drop-down menu, set the track view to Notes.
2. With either the Grabber tool or the Selector tool, select the note in the
playlist you want to delete.
3. Press Delete/Backspace on your keyboard or choose Edit➪Clear from
the main menu.
Editing MIDI in the Edit Window
481
Instead of using Steps 2 and 3 in the preceding list, start out with the Pencil
tool. Then press Option (Mac) or Alt (PC) to change the pencil into an
eraser, and then click the note to delete it.
Deleting a program change
To delete a program change, do the following:
1. From the Track View drop-down menu, set the track view to Program
Change.
2. Select the program change you want to delete.
• With the Grabber tool, click the event or drag across it to select it.
If you drag, you can include other MIDI events in your selection to
delete them as well.
• With the Pencil tool, press Option (Mac) or Alt (PC) while you click
the event. You won’t need to perform Step 3 using this procedure
because the event is automatically deleted.
3. Press Delete/Backspace on your keyboard or choose Edit➪Clear from
the main menu.
The event is deleted.
Changing MIDI events
In the Edit window, you can edit MIDI notes in a variety of ways including
changing pitch, duration, velocity, and time location.
When you edit or move notes, you can make a copy of the note to move by
pressing Option (Mac) or Ctrl (PC) while you drag the note.
Changing a note’s pitch
To change a note’s pitch, do the following:
1. From the Track View drop-down menu, set your track to Notes view.
2. Select the Pencil or the Grabber tool.
3. Press Shift to keep the note’s start point from changing while you
move it.
4. Click the note and drag it up (higher pitch) or down (lower pitch) in
the playlist.
Editing MIDI Data
If you use the Selector tool to select the note, all automation and controller
data is deleted along with the note.
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5. Release the mouse button when the note is where you want it.
Changing a note’s duration
To change a note’s duration — its Start or End points — do the following:
1. From the Track View drop-down menu, set your track to Notes view.
2. Select the Pencil tool.
3. With the Pencil tool, click the note you want to change.
Press Shift while you click to select more than one note.
4. Click the Start or End point of the note and drag it left or right.
• If your edit mode is set to Grid, the note is moved along the grid
boundary.
• If you’re using the Spot edit mode, the Spot dialog box appears; there,
you can type in a location for the note and then click Done.
5. Release the mouse button when the note is where you want it.
Changing a note’s velocity
In the MIDI world, velocity means volume. To change a note’s velocity, do the
following:
1. From the Track View drop-down menu, set your track to Velocity view.
2. Select the Grabber tool.
3. Click the diamond-shaped icon at the top of the velocity stalk — the
vertical line with a diamond at the top representing the velocity
level — in the track’s playlist and then drag it up or down.
4. Release the mouse button when the velocity is where you want it.
You can also use one of the Pencil tools to draw various velocity shapes.
Select the desired Pencil tool and then draw a line in the track’s playlist
where you want the velocities to be. (See “Perusing the Pencil tools” section,
earlier in this chapter, for more on drawing velocity settings.)
You can scale the velocities of several notes by using the Selector to select
the notes and then the Trimmer to drag them up or down as a unit. This lets
you keep the relationship between the velocities the same as you change the
overall levels.
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483
Changing time locations
1. From the Track View drop-down menu, set your track to Notes view.
2. Select the Pencil or the Grabber tool.
3. Press Shift to keep the note’s pitch from changing while you move it.
4. Click the note and drag it left or right.
• If your edit mode is set to Grid, the note is moved along the grid
boundary.
• If you’re using Spot edit mode, the Spot dialog box appears; there, you
can type in a location for the note and then click Done.
5. Release the mouse button when the note is where you want it.
Moving notes freely
To move a note freely in the track, do the following:
1. From the Track View drop-down menu, set your track to Notes view.
2. Select the Pencil or the Grabber tool.
3. Click the note and drag it left or right, up or down.
4. Release the mouse button when the note is where you want it.
Editing note attributes
To edit a note by changing note attributes as displayed in the MIDI Event
List, do the following:
1. From the Track View drop-down menu, set your track to Notes view.
2. Click the note by using the Pencil or the Grabber tool.
The note’s attributes show up in the MIDI Event List window with a blue
highlight (as shown in Figure 3-10).
3. Click in the Attribute field(s) you want to change:
• Start: This field indicates the start point of the selected note. This is
displayed in the main time scale setting for the session.
• End: This field controls the end point of the note, which is displayed
in the main time scale format. If this field isn’t visible, click the
Options button at the top of the MIDI Event List dialog box and
choose Show Note End Time from the menu that appears.
Editing MIDI Data
Time locations define where the Start points of your notes are placed within
your session. To change a note’s time location, do the following:
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Figure 3-10:
The MIDI
Even List
window
shows the
values for
the selected
note.
• Length/Info: This field displays the duration of the note (shown in
the session’s main time scale). Changing the start or end times also
changes this value. Changing this field alters the end point but leaves
the start point untouched. MIDI events without length data (such as
program changes or controller events) show data associated with
that data, such as the program number or controller event type. If
this field isn’t visible, click the Options button at the top of the MIDI
Event List dialog box and choose Show Note Length from the menu
that appears.
• Pitch: This field displays the pitch of the note.
• Attack Velocity: This field shows the velocity of the start of the note
as a MIDI value between 0 and 127.
• Release Velocity: This field displays the release velocity of the note as
a MIDI value between 0 and 127.
4. Enter in the new value in the field corresponding to the attribute you
want to change.
5. Press Return/Enter.
The note changes to match the new attributes.
If you want to change more than one field, press / (the front-slash key) to
move between fields.
Editing program data
Because MIDI contains no sound in itself, you can create program change
events to change the sound patches of your MIDI sound modules throughout
the session. This can keep your computer processing resources optimized
as well as keep you from using more tracks than absolutely necessary for
Editing MIDI in the Edit Window
485
your session, which is a good thing because Pro Tools allows you to have no
more than 32 active tracks playing in a session.
Program patches are the sounds available in your MIDI device. Here’s how to
change program patches:
1. From the Track View drop-down menu, set the track to Program
Change view.
2. With the Grabber tool, double-click the program change event you
want to change.
The Patch Select dialog box appears.
3. In the Patch Select dialog box, select the new patch name/number.
(If the patch resides on a different bank as the current patch, select
the new bank as well.)
4. Click Done.
The Patch Select dialog box closes, and the new program is sounded
when you play your session.
Moving program change markers
Program change markers are helpful little tools because they tell Pro Tools
when to change the sound of your MIDI device while your session plays. To
move a program change marker, follow these steps:
1. From the Track View drop-down menu, set the track to Program
Change view.
2. Select the Grabber or the Pencil tool.
3. Click and drag the Program Change Marker left or right.
• If you have Grid mode enabled, the program change event moves to
the closest grid boundary.
• If you have Spot mode selected, the Spot dialog box opens; there, you
can enter a new location for the marker and then click Done.
Changing continuous controller data
When you deal with continuous controller data, you are dealing with Volume,
Pan, Pitch Bend, Mono Aftertouch, and MIDI controllers. All this data is represented as a line graph punctuated by a series of breakpoints. You have a
choice when you want to make changes: you can edit the line itself using the
Pencil tool; or you can edit the breakpoints by using the Grabber, the Pencil,
or the Smart tool.
Editing MIDI Data
Changing program patches
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Editing lines with the Pencil tool
To edit the line graph with a Pencil tool, do the following:
1. From the Track View drop-down menu, select the track view that corresponds to the parameter you want to edit (Volume, Pan, Pitch Bend,
Mono Aftertouch, MIDI Controller).
2. Click and hold the Pencil icon, and then select the Pencil tool you
want to use from the menu that appears.
3. Click in the playlist where you want to start drawing and then drag
your mouse to draw the new values.
The line is drawn, and breakpoints are inserted according to the resolution you set for the Pencil Tool Resolution When Drawing Controller
Data option on the MIDI tab of the Preferences dialog box. (Choose
Setup➪Preferences from the main menu to access the Preferences
dialog box.)
4. Release the mouse button when you reach the end of your edit.
Editing breakpoints
If you’re not adept at drawing lines, you might want to work with breakpoints instead. Here’s how:
1. From the Track View drop-down menu, select the track view that corresponds to the parameter you want to edit (Volume, Pan, Pitch Bend,
Mono Aftertouch, MIDI Controller).
2. Select the Grabber tool.
3. Click and drag the breakpoint.
4. Release the mouse button.
Scaling breakpoints
When you scale breakpoints, you move a group of breakpoints while retaining the relationship between them. You can use the Trimmer tool to scale
breakpoints, as in the following step list:
1. From the Track View drop-down menu, select the track view that corresponds to the parameter you want to edit (Volume, Pan, Pitch Bend,
Mono Aftertouch, MIDI Controller).
2. Select the Selector tool.
3. With your mouse, click and drag across the breakpoints you want
to scale.
The selection becomes highlighted.
Editing MIDI in the Edit Window
487
4. Select the Trimmer tool.
5. Click and drag the breakpoints up or down.
6. Release your mouse button.
There are other ways to edit continuous controller data in Pro Tools. Check
out Book VI, Chapter 6 to find out more.
Using the Smart tool
The Smart tool puts a new spin on three older tools: namely, the Trimmer,
Selector, and Grabber tools. Basically, the Smart tool changes how it works
depending on what you try to do with it. The following sections detail how
this tool behaves when you work with MIDI data.
To use the Smart tool, press the button located under the Selector tool in the
Edit window, as shown in Figure 3-11.
Figure 3-11:
Enable the
Smart tool
by clicking
the button
under the
Selector tool.
Click here to enable the Smart tool.
Check out Book IV, Chapter 4 for more details about the Smart tool.
Using the Smart tool in Notes view
When you use the Smart tool with your Track view set to Notes, the tool
behaves the following way:
✦ Placing the cursor so that it doesn’t touch any notes or pressing Ô
(Mac) or Ctrl (PC) enables the Selector face of the Smart tool. You can
then click and drag to make a selection.
✦ Positioning the cursor near the middle of a note enables the Grabber
face of the Smart tool.
Editing MIDI Data
The breakpoints move as a unit, but they don’t all move the same
amount. Rather, they move differently to keep the relationship between
the breakpoints intact.
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✦ Placing the cursor over the start or end point of a note enables the
Trimmer face of the Smart tool.
✦ To turn the Smart tool into an eraser, make sure the cursor isn’t touching any notes (the Selector appears) and then press Control+Option
(Mac) or Windows+Alt (PC).
Using the Smart tool in an Automation or in Controller views
When you use the Smart tool in an Automation view (Volume, Mute, or Pan)
or in Controller view, the tool acts the following ways:
✦ Trimmer: To enable the Trimmer tool, position your cursor in the top
quarter of the region. The Trimmer icon appears. You can move your
cursor up and down to change the value or to create breakpoints. If you
want finer control of the Trimmer tool while you work, press Ô (Mac) or
Ctrl (PC) after you begin trimming.
✦ Selector: To enable the Selector tool, position your cursor in the lower
three-quarters of the region. You can then drag your selection.
✦ Grabber: To enable the Grabber tool, press Ô (Mac) or Ctrl (PC). You
can do several things with the Grabber tool with a track set to an
automation view:
• Edit existing breakpoints: Position the cursor near one of these
points, and the Grabber appears. You can increase the resolution of
your movements to fine-control by pressing Ô (Mac) or Ctrl (PC)
after you start moving the breakpoint.
• Constrain the Grabber vertically: To keep the Grabber from moving
right or left, press Shift — or, if you set the tool to fine control, press
Ô+Shift (Mac) or Ctrl+Shift (PC).
Exploring MIDI Events
The MIDI Event List consists of all the MIDI data in your track. This list displays the location, pitch, velocity, and duration of every note as well as all
other parameters for the track. The MIDI Event List window lets you edit all
your track’s MIDI data in one place, which makes it one extremely helpful
tool in the Pro Tools toolbox. The following sections explain the ways to best
use this window to edit your track.
Exploring the MIDI Event List window
The MIDI Event List window, as shown in Figure 3-12, displays MIDI data for a
selected track. You can open the window in several different ways:
Exploring MIDI Events
489
✦ Choose Event➪MIDI Event List from the main menu.
✦ Press Option+= (equal sign; Mac) or Alt+= (equal sign; PC). Pressing
this combination again toggles you back to the Edit window.
Figure 3-12:
Choose
Window➪
Show MIDI
Event List to
open the
MIDI Event
List window.
If you have a selection made within a MIDI track and you open the MIDI
Event List window, the selected note or range of notes is highlighted.
The cursor location is marked with an arrow in the MIDI Event List.
Examining MIDI Event menus
The MIDI Event List contains three menus at the top of the window: Track
Selector, Options, and Insert. The following list gives you the details on the
various menu options:
✦ Track Selector: This menu shows the track that’s listed in the window
and lets you choose a different track to display.
✦ Options: This menu consists of the following options, as shown in
Figure 3-13:
• Show Sub Counter: This option displays the event times in the subcounter value. (Book II, Chapter 4 has more on how to use counters.)
• Go To: Choosing this option opens a dialog box in which you enter
the location in the session you want to go to.
Editing MIDI Data
✦ Press Control (Mac) or Windows (PC) while you double-click the MIDI
track name in the Edit or Mix window.
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Figure 3-13:
Use the
Options
menu to
control
various
areas of
display and
operation.
• Scroll to Edit Selection: This automatically moves the MIDI Event List
to the Edit Start or Insertion point for the session.
• Page Scroll During Playback: This option scrolls the MIDI Event List
while your session plays.
• Scroll During Edit Selection: This option automatically scrolls the MIDI
Event List while you move your edit point in the Edit window.
• Show Note Length: Selecting this option displays the length of the
MIDI notes in the MIDI Event List.
• Show Note End Time: This option lets you display the end time of the
MIDI notes in the Event List instead of the note length. (Sorry, but
you can’t have both.)
• Insert at Edit Location: This option lets you designate that any
inserted event is placed at the Edit Start or Insertion point.
• Insert at Playback Location: This option lets you insert notes on the
fly while the session plays back.
• Insert at Playback Location with Grid: This option snaps any inserted
notes placed on the fly (see the previous bullet) to the nearest grid
boundary.
• View Filter: This option opens the MIDI Event List View Filter dialog
box, as shown in Figure 3-14. You use this dialog box to specify which
fields appear in the MIDI Event List dialog box. This, in turn, effects
which events are edited by using Cut, Copy, and Paste. Any fields
that are not displayed in the MIDI Event List aren’t affected by Cut,
Copy, and Paste commands. (For more about this dialog box, see
Chapter 4 in this mini-book.)
✦ Insert: The Insert menu consists of the types of events you can insert
into the track using the MIDI Event List. This menu is covered in greater
detail in the “Inserting MIDI events” section, later in this chapter.
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Figure 3-14:
The View
Filter dialog
box lets you
choose
what fields
are displayed in
the MIDI
Event List.
Although it isn’t actually a menu option, the number of Events in your current track is displayed to the right of the three menus listed in this section.
Eyeing the rest of the MIDI Event List
Below the MIDI Event menus (see the preceding section) lies the whole
range of possible MIDI events for the track. (Refer to Figure 3-12.) These
events are listed in order from the beginning of the session to the end and
are listed in three columns. (The “Inserting MIDI events” section, later in this
chapter, explores these columns further.)
✦ Start: This column displays the location of the event’s Start point in
either the main or sub-counter time format, depending on whether you
have the Show Sub Counter option selected in the Options menu. (See
the “Examining MIDI Event menus” section, earlier in this chapter.)
If more than one event is located at the same place in the session (like
with chords, for example), the location for all but the first event is
dimmed. This makes it easier to see these multiple events.
To the left of the Start point is an arrow indicating the location of the
cursor in the session.
✦ Event: This column shows the event type (indicated by the icon at the left
of the column) as well as its associated values. In the case of notes, you
see the note letter and octave as well as its attack and release velocities.
✦ Length/Info: This column shows the length or end point of the MIDI
notes, depending on whether you have the Show Note Length or Show
Note End Time option selected under the Options menu. (See the preceding section.)
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Getting around the MIDI Event List
Here are several ways to move quickly around the MIDI Event List:
✦ Double-clicking the event in the list highlights your selection.
✦ Pressing Tab or the down-arrow key (↓) moves you to the next event.
✦ Pressing Option+Tab (Mac) or Ctrl+Tab (PC) or the up-arrow key (↑)
moves you to the previous event.
✦ Using the left (←) or right arrow (→) moves you laterally in the event
list.
✦ Pressing Shift while you double-click or pressing Tab/arrow adds events
to your selection.
✦ Choosing Go To from the Options drop-down menu takes you to a specific location in the event list.
✦ Selecting the Scroll to Edit Selection option under the Options menu lets
you go automatically to the beginning of the edit selection.
Editing in the MIDI Event List
Editing in the MIDI Event list isn’t for everyone. Many people prefer the
visual format offered by the Edit window, but editing in the MIDI Event List
window can be faster and more accurate. This section describes the process
of inserting, deleting, and editing MIDI data in the MIDI Events List.
Inserting MIDI events
From the Insert menu, as shown in Figure 3-15, you can insert the following
MIDI events into your track:
✦ Note: Selecting Note lets you enter the start time, pitch, attack velocity,
release velocity, and either the end time or duration of the notes.
✦ Pitch Bend: When you enter pitch bend information in the Event entry
window, you include start time and the bend amount. Positive values
raise the pitch while negative numbers lower it.
✦ Volume: In the Volume Event entry window, enter the start time, controller number (set to 7 for volume), and the volume level (0–17). The
controller name appears in the far-right column.
✦ Pan: The Pan Event entry window contains fields for start time, controller number (in this case, set to 10), and pan value (negative numbers
pan left of center, and positive numbers pan right of center). The controller name (pan) appears in the far-right column.
Exploring MIDI Events
493
✦ Mono Aftertouch: The Mono Aftertouch Event entry window offers
fields for the start time and the after-touch level (0 and 127). After-touch
is the velocity of the note after the initial attack.
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✦ Poly Aftertouch: The Poly (polyphonic) Aftertouch Event entry window offers fields for the start time, note name, and the after-touch level
(0 and 127).
Editing MIDI Data
✦ Program Change: The Program Change Event entry window has fields
for the start time, program number, controller 0 value, and controller
32 value. (Controller 0 and controller 32 are for sending program bank
change commands. Some MIDI devices use controller 0, others use controller 32, and still others use both. Consult the manual for your MIDI
device to determine which controller value it uses.) The program name
appears when you choose the program number.
✦ Controller: This option lets you designate which of the many controller
events you want to enter. The event’s entry window for this option includes the start time, controller number, and the controller value. The
controller number that you choose determines the controller parameter
you change, and this parameter name shows up in the farthest column
to the right.
✦ Another Note: This option enters the data from the previous inserted
event into fields.
Figure 3-15:
Insert MIDI
events from
the Insert
menu.
To insert a MIDI note using the MIDI Event List, do the following:
1. In the MIDI Event List window, choose Note from the Insert menu.
The Note Event entry window opens at the top of the MIDI event list, as
shown in Figure 3-16.
Figure 3-16:
The Note
Event entry
window.
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Exploring MIDI Events
2. Enter the note in one of the following ways:
• Type its values in the appropriate fields.
• Play the note or operation on your MIDI keyboard.
• Scroll up or down in the fields.
3. Insert the note by performing one of these commands:
• Press Return/Enter to close the Event entry window when the event
is accepted.
• Press Return/Enter to insert the event and keep the window open.
To insert a controller event, do the following:
1. In the MIDI Event List window, choose the controller event you want
to insert from the Insert menu or choose Controller to specify the controller type later.
The Controller event’s entry window opens at the top of the MIDI event
list, as shown in Figure 3-17. Unless you select the Controller option, the
name for the event appears in the far-right column.
Figure 3-17:
The
Controller
Event entry
window.
2. Enter the value in each of the fields in one of the following ways:
• Type the value into the fields.
• Press the ↑ or ↓ key to scroll the value.
• Drag up or down in the field by pressing Ô (Mac) or Ctrl (PC) while
you drag.
• Play the controller event on your keyboard.
3. Insert the note by performing one of these commands:
• Press Return/Enter to close the Event entry window when the event is
accepted.
• Press Return/Enter to insert the event and keep the window open.
Exploring MIDI Events
495
To insert a program change, do the following:
1. In the MIDI Event List window, choose Program Change from the
The Program Change Event entry window opens at the top of the MIDI
event list, as shown in Figure 3-18.
Figure 3-18:
The Program
Change
event’s
entry
window.
2. Enter the start time for the event.
3. Enter the program number or click the info column to open the
Program Change window.
4. Insert the note by performing one of these commands:
• Press Return/Enter to close the Event entry window when the event is
accepted.
• Press Return/Enter to insert the event and keep the window open.
Deleting events
You can delete MIDI events one of two ways:
✦ Press Option (Mac) or Alt (PC) while you click the event with one of the
Edit tools located at the top of the Edit window.
✦ Select the event or events (hold the Shift key while you select more than
one event) in the MIDI Event list with one of the Edit tools located at the
top of the Edit window and then press Delete (Mac) or Backspace (PC)
or choose Edit➪Clear from the main menu.
Changing data
You can edit any MIDI event in the event list several ways, including using
the familiar Cut, Copy, and Paste commands. These are covered in this
section.
Editing MIDI Data
Insert menu.
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To select events to edit, do one of the following:
✦ Click the event to highlight it.
✦ Ô-click (Mac) or Ctrl-click (PC) to select several noncontiguous events.
✦ Shift-click the beginning and end events of a group of contiguous
events.
✦ Click and drag across multiple events.
You can remove an event from a selection by pressing Ô (Mac) or Ctrl
(PC) while clicking it.
To cut or copy events, do the following:
1. Select your event as described in the preceding list.
2. Choose Edit➪Cut or Edit➪Copy from the main menu to place the
event on the Clipboard.
To paste events, do one of the following:
✦ Click within the track’s playlist where you want the event to go and
then press Ô+V (Mac) or Ctrl+V (PC) or choose Edit➪Paste from the
main menu.
✦ Choose Go To from the Options menu in the MIDI Event List window,
type in the location, and then click OK.
To manually edit an event, do the following:
1. Double-click in the field you want to edit of the event in the list.
Alternatively, press Ô+Enter (in the numberpad section of the keyboard;
Mac) or Ctrl+Enter (PC) when you have an event selected.
2. Enter the new value in the field you want to edit.
3. Insert the note by performing one of these commands:
• Press Return/Enter to close the Event entry window when the event is
accepted.
• Press Return/Enter to insert the event and keep the window open.
Chapter 4: Performing
MIDI Operations
In This Chapter
Quantizing MIDI notes
Flattening and restoring MIDI performances
Changing note velocity and duration
Transposing, selecting, and splitting MIDI notes
Adjusting MIDI Real-Time Properties
P
ro Tools offers a handful of MIDI operations (located under the MIDI
section of the main menu) where you can transform a mediocre track
into a stunning performance. (Well, almost, depending on how well you use
these operations.) These operations allow you to make changes to the MIDI
performance data on a track.
In this chapter, you get a chance to dig in to some of the most powerful
MIDI editing operations in Pro Tools. With these operations in hand, you
can do some really cool things, such as change the key of a song, alter the
characteristics of a performance, or correct timing problems. This chapter
also leads you through the MIDI Operations window and shows you how
to perform each of the operations in the window.
Getting Used to the MIDI Operations Window
Logically enough, the MIDI Operations window is where you do all your
MIDI operations. This window, as shown in Figure 4-1, is accessed by
choosing any one of the MIDI operations listed under the Event section of
the main menu, or by choosing Event➪MIDI➪Operations Window from the
main menu.
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Getting Used to the MIDI Operations Window
Figure 4-1:
The MIDI
Operations
window lets
you perform
many MIDI
operations
on selected
MIDI data.
After this window is open, you can select the operation you want to perform
from the drop-down menu at the top of the window.
To close the window, press Return (Mac) or Enter in the alphanumeric
section of the keyboard (PC) after you click the Apply button to apply the
operation.
From the MIDI Operations window, you can use the following commands as a
fast way to navigate and adjust parameters:
✦ Press Tab to move forward through the fields in the window; conversely,
press Shift+Tab to move backward through the fields.
✦ Use the up-arrow (↑) and down-arrow (↓) keys to adjust values up and
down in your selected field.
✦ In a highlighted field, press Ô (Mac) or Ctrl (PC) while you drag your
mouse to adjust the value up or down in your selected field’s text box.
✦ When adjusting the sliders, press Ô (Mac) or Ctrl (PC) to increase the
resolution of the sliders while you use them to adjust the values in your
selected field.
✦ Play a note on your MIDI controller to select a note in fields with pitch
and velocity settings.
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✦ Grid/Groove Quantize: Lets you adjust the timing of your selected
notes and to the Quantize operation, except you use a groove template
to create a grid to quantize to if you choose.
✦ Restore Performance: Use this option to return to saved performance
settings.
✦ Flatten Performance: Use this option to tweak performance data and
lock it in before you do any more tweaking.
✦ Change Velocity: Use this to adjust the volume of the attack or the
release of selected MIDI notes.
✦ Change Duration: User this to alter the length of recorded MIDI notes.
✦ Transpose: User this to change the pitch of selected notes.
✦ Select/Split Notes: Use this to choose specific MIDI notes or a range of
notes in a selection, or copy or cut the selected notes.
✦ Input Quantize: Use this to set a Quantize value that your recorded
performance is adjusted to automatically while you record it.
✦ Step Input: Use this option to input notes manually, one at a time. You
can control the duration, velocity, and location of each note.
Figure 4-2:
The MIDI
Operations
window
includes a
pop-up
menu where
you can
select from
several
MIDI
Operations.
Performing MIDI
Operations
MIDI operations are all done from the MIDI Operations window (see the
previous section). The operations you can perform are listed in the dropdown menu at the top of the window. In version 6 of Pro Tools, you have the
following operations available to you (as shown in Figure 4-2):
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Stay tuned: The following sections look at each of these MIDI operations in
greater detail. If you want to perform any one of them, here’s how:
1. Select the note(s) you want to change.
Book IV, Chapter 2 describes how to make these selections.
2. Select the MIDI operation you want to perform from the Event section
of the main menu. (Or, choose Event➪MIDI➪Operation Window from
the main menu and choose the operation you want from the window’s
drop-down menu.)
3. Make the settings you want in the available fields.
Check out the section for each operation to see what to adjust.
4. Apply the operation by clicking Apply or by using the keyboard:
• To keep the MIDI Operations window open: Press Enter in the number
pad section of the keyboard.
• To close the MIDI Operations window: Press Return (Mac) or Enter in
the alphanumeric section of the keyboard (PC) to apply the operation and close the MIDI Operations window.
Grid/Groove Quantize
The Grid/Groove Quantize MIDI operation lets you adjust the timing of your
selected notes. This is great when you want to conform the rhythmic placement of your MIDI notes to a grid or you have a problem with a really bad
drummer and you want to fix his timing mistakes.
The Grid/Groove Quantize version of the MIDI Operations window, as shown
in Figure 4-3, contains the following fields:
✦ What to Quantize: From this section, choose which part of the note to
quantize:
• Attacks: Selecting this check box sets the quantization to the start of
the selected notes.
• Releases: Selecting this check box quantizes the ends of the notes.
• Preserve Note Duration: Selecting this check box produces different
results depending on whether you choose Attacks or Releases.
With Attacks selected, Preserve Note Duration keeps the end of the
note intact. With Releases selected, the start of the note is left intact.
If both Attacks and Releases are selected, the Preserve Note Duration
option is dimmed.
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Figure 4-3:
The
Grid/Groove
Quantize
options let
you align
your MIDI
notes to a
time grid.
✦ Quantize Grid: Here is where you choose the resolution of the quantize
grid, from whole notes to sixty-fourth notes. If you choose sixteenth
notes, for example, your notes will move to the nearest sixteenth note
when you quantize.
• Note selector: Choose the note value of your quantize grid from this
drop-down menu. Click the note to select it.
• Tuplet: This check box allows you to select odd note groupings, such
as triplets. When you select this option, you need to fill in the tuplet
value. For example, to create a regular eighth-note triplet, enter 3 in
Time 1; for a quarter-note triplet, enter 3 in Time 2.
• Offset Grid By: Use this option to move the Quantize grid forward or
backward in time by the selected number of ticks. This is helpful for
creating a groove that lies slightly ahead of — or behind — the beat.
• Randomize: Using this option adds a level of randomness to the
quantizing of your selection — no, not to mess up the rhythm, but to
keep it from being too rigid. You can select values between 0 and
100%. Lower values place the randomized notes closer to the grid.
✦ Options: Select these items to fine-tune your Grid/Groove Quantize operation by specifying which notes to quantize and by how much:
• Swing: This option and slider allows you create a swing feel (a dottedquarter, eighth-note triplet). You specify a percentage (from 0 to
300); selecting 100% provides a triplet feel.
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• Include Within: Here, you specify a range of notes to include.
Selecting this option quantizes only selected notes that fall within
the boundaries you set here (from 0 to 100%); the smaller the
number, the narrower the range of notes affected.
• Exclude Within: Here, you specify a range of notes to exclude from
quantization. Any selected notes that fall within the boundaries you
set here (between 0 and 100%) won’t be quantized.
• Strength: This is, in my opinion, the most useful function in the Pro
Tool Grid/Groove Quantize operation. You can use it to move your
quantized notes by a percentage (from 0 to 100%) rather than just
snapping them right to the grid. Higher numbers keep more strictly
to the grid than do the lower values.
Using the options in these four sections well helps keep a natural feel in your
performance.
The following list explains your options when you want to take the groove
from a recorded performance and apply it to the MIDI sequence of your
track. Just choose one of the templates from the Groove Clipboard in the
Quantize Grid drop-down menu located in the Grid/Groove Quantize version
of the MIDI Operations window (as shown in Figure 4-4).
When you select your groove template, the Grid/Groove Quantize menu
options appear, as shown Figure 4-5.
Figure 4-4:
Select a
groove
template
from the
Quantize
Grid dropdown menu.
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Figure 4-5:
The
Grid/Groove
Quantize
function lets
you align
your notes
to a groove
template.
One limitation of Pro Tools LE is that you can’t create your own groove
templates. Instead, you either have to use what comes with Pro Tools (which
aren’t bad), buy one from Digidesign, or hunt one from a third-party maker.
Of course, there’s an off chance that you may find some downloadable ones
on the Internet. To find out, I recommend checking out the Digidesign User
Conference Web site at http://duc.digidesign.com (do a search for
Digigroove template).
The options in the Grid/Groove Quantize version of the MIDI Operations
window include the following:
✦ Groove template selector: From this drop-down menu, choose a groove
template to apply to your selection. (These templates are located in the
Groove folder within the Pro Tools folder on your system’s hard drive.)
After you choose your template, its content, meter, and tempo information show up in the Comments section in the middle of the window. To
see these settings, simply click the Show Comments button.
✦ Pre-Quantize: When you have the timing field enabled (see the next section), selecting this check box applies the setting in the Quantize version
of the MIDI Operations window to the template before you apply your
selection using the Grid/Groove Quantize settings.
✦ Randomize: Selecting this check box adds a level of randomness to the
quantizing of your selection — no, not to mess up the rhythm, but to
keep it from being too rigid. Use the slider to select values between 0%
and 100%. Lower values place the randomized notes closer to the grid.
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✦ Options: Here’s where you can tinker with your groove:
• Timing: This option lets you adjust the timing of the quantization
applied. A setting of 0% makes no change to the selection; a setting
of 100% places the notes right at the groove template’s grid settings.
A setting of 200% moves the selected notes twice the distance from
the template’s grid locations.
• Duration: This setting changes the duration of the notes to fit the
groove template. A setting of 0% makes no change, a setting of 100%
matches the notes to the groove template, and a setting beyond that
increases or decreases the duration of the original notes according
to their ratio to the notes in the groove template.
• Velocity: This field changes the velocity — the volume — of the quantized notes. Like with the other fields (Timing and Duration), the
lower the number, the less the velocity changes.
✦ Slider Settings: You can recall and save the slider settings of the options
with a template.
• Recall with Template: Selecting this check box resets all the option
settings to those that are saved with the template.
• Save: Click this button to save your current option settings. If you
choose Save, you can add any comments about the template, and
they show up in the Comments section of the Grid/Groove Quantize
options of the MIDI Operations window.
Restore Performance
Restore Performance returns you to a saved performance settings. This
operation is like having an Undo for all the other operations listed in this
chapter. Your performance returns to one of two earlier states:
✦ The settings saved by using the Flatten Performance command (see the
next section) if you used it
✦ Its original settings (if you haven’t saved any other settings)
Using the Restore Performance version of the MIDI Operations window, you
can select from several areas to restore. (See Figure 4-6.)
✦ Timing (Quantization): Selecting this check box restores the note’s start
time. If the Duration check box is cleared, the duration of the notes
changes back to what it was originally.
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505
✦ Duration: Selecting this check box restores the length of the note. If you
don’t have the Timing check box selected, the start times of your notes
don’t change but the end times may.
✦ Pitch: Well, you know what this restores.
Figure 4-6:
Use Restore
Performance
to revert
your
selection to
its original
state.
If you use the Grid/Groove Quantize operation when you recorded, you can
remove it by using this operation. Choose the Timing (Quantization) option,
and your original performance is resurrected in all its pristine beauty.
Flatten Performance
Flatten Performance is the operation you use when you want to save the performance data of a selection — timing, duration, velocity, and pitch — as the
“original” setting that the Restore Performance operation (see the previous
section) returns you to. The Flatten Performance version of the MIDI
Operations window is shown in Figure 4-7.
Using this operation allows you to tweak performance data and lock it in
before you do more tweaking. If you don’t like the extra tweaking, you can
just go back to these settings. It’s a little added insurance when you’re
messing creatively with MIDI data.
Figure 4-7:
The Flatten
Performance
function lets
you lock in
selected
notes.
Performing MIDI
Operations
✦ Velocity: Selecting this check box restores the volume of the note.
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Use the Flatten Performance operation to save the following data:
✦ Timing (Quantization): The note’s start time. If the Duration check
box is cleared, the duration of the note changes back to what it was
originally.
✦ Duration: The length of the note.
✦ Velocity: The volume of the note.
✦ Pitch: Well, you know what that is.
Change Velocity
The Change Velocity version of the MIDI Operations window, as shown in
Figure 4-8, allows you to adjust the volume (velocity in MIDI-speak) of the
attack or release of selected MIDI notes.
This operation is a lifesaver for times when you have a drummer playing an
electronic kit and just one note is weak — or when you need to tame overly
aggressive cymbals.
Figure 4-8:
Use the
Change
Velocity
options to
adjust the
volume of
selected
notes.
The Change Velocity options in the MIDI Operations window contain the
following fields:
✦ Change Velocity Of: Here, you choose between the initial attack of
the note (the Attacks check box) or the release value (the Releases
check box).
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507
✦ Set All To: Selecting this radio button sets all the velocities of the
selected notes to the value in the field. You can ether type the value in
or move the slider to adjust the value up or down.
✦ Subtract: Here, you subtract a specified value to your existing one. You
can either enter the value in the field or use the slider. Your selected
notes will change velocity by the number you specify.
✦ Scale By: Here, you set a scale for how much the velocities of your
selected notes are to change — a percentage between 1 and 400. (Again,
you can use the slider or type in a number.)
✦ Change Smoothly: Use this option to change the velocity of selected
notes gradually over time. This is useful for creating crescendos and
decrescendos. Type in the beginning and end values in the From and To
fields, respectively.
✦ Change Smoothly by Percentage: This option is similar to Change
Smoothly (see the preceding bullet) except that you specify a percentage
of change instead of typing in specific numbers. This field is also where
you can use a curve graph to specify how much the notes’ velocity must
increase or decrease; choose a percentage value between –99 and +99.
The curve graph then shows how your setting is implemented.
✦ Limit To: Select this option if you want to set a minimum and maximum
range for your Change Velocity settings. You type those values into the
fields. This field will be editable when you check the Randomize options
(listed below).
✦ Randomize: Here, you create a random velocity change, specifying it
as a percentage value between 0 and 100%. For example, if you choose
a Set All To value of 60 and a Randomize setting of 40%, you end up with
Change Velocity values from 48 to 72.
Be careful if you’re changing groups of notes. Using Add or Subtract for that
purpose can change the relationships between various notes. If you like the
way the original notes sound together, try using the Scale option instead.
This keeps the relationships between notes intact.
Change Duration
Use the Change Duration operation to alter the length of recorded MIDI
notes. The Change Duration version of the MIDI Operations window, shown
in Figure 4-9, contains the following fields:
Performing MIDI
Operations
✦ Add: Here, you add a specified value to your existing one. You can either
enter the value in the field or use the slider. Your selected notes will
change velocity by the number you specify.
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✦ Set All To/Add/Subtract/Scale option: This check box allows you to
choose among several options:
• Set All To: Select this radio button to set the duration of selected
notes to the values in the accompanying fields.
• Add: Here, you add a specified value to your existing one.
• Subtract: Here, you subtract a specified value to your existing one.
• Scale By: Here, you set a scale for how much the velocities of your
selected notes are to change — a percentage between 1 and 400.
✦ Legato: This option lets you lengthen your selected notes in one of two
ways:
• Gap: Select this option to lengthen the notes to a point where a specified gap exists between your selected notes and the following ones.
• Overlap: Use this option if you want to extend the length of your
select notes and have them overlap the following notes.
✦ Remove Overlaps and Leave Gap: This option lets you remove any
overlaps between notes of the same pitch. You designate the amount of
the gap in the field to the right.
✦ Transform Sustain Pedal to Duration: This option transforms sustain
pedal data for a note and applies it to the duration of the note. Checking
the Delete sustain events after transformation box removes the sustain
data from the MIDI track.
✦ Change Continuously: This option give you two different ways to
change the duration of your selection over time. These are:
• In Ticks: Here, you change the length of notes gradually over time,
entering ticks in the From and To fields to specify beginning and end
times for the change in duration. You can also enter a Curve value to
modify the shape of the change. You can either drag the slider or
enter a value in the field from –99 to +99.
• By Percentage: In this field, you apply the duration change smoothly
(see the previous bullet) by a percentage rather than by entering
quarter notes and ticks. You can also adjust the curve of the change,
using values from –99 to +99.
✦ Limit Range: Use this setting to specify a minimum and maximum
change duration for the settings you choose.
✦ Randomize: Use this field to create a random change in duration, based
on the setting you choose in the fields described here.
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Figure 4-9:
The Change
Duration
function lets
you adjust
the length of
selected
notes.
The Change Duration operation is useful for changing the feel of the music
by making your selection either more staccato or legato.
Transpose
Use the Transpose operation to change the pitch of selected notes. Checking
out the Transpose version of the MIDI Operations window, as shown in
Figure 4-10, you see that the Transpose operation offers these ways of
changing pitch:
✦ Transpose By: Use this setting to transpose by octaves or semitones
(one half-step). You can either type in the value or use the sliders to
adjust the setting.
✦ Transpose: Here, you type in the note and octave that you want to
transpose from (in the From field) and to (in the To field). You can also
use the slider to adjust the settings if you prefer.
✦ Transpose All Notes To: Selecting this option changes all your selected
notes to the note you designate in the field.
✦ Transpose in Key: Here, you can transpose your selected notes by scale
steps.
Transposing using this MIDI operation makes it easy to change the pitch —
in effect, the musical key — of the entire song or region. This is especially
helpful if you decide that the song needs to be in a different key for your
singer to sing well.
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Figure 4-10:
Use the
Transpose
function to
change the
pitch of a
selection.
Select/Split Notes
The Select/Split Notes operation allows you to choose specific MIDI notes
or a range of notes in a selection and to move them from the track or copy
them to another track. Your options, as shown in the Select/Split Notes
version of the MIDI Operations window you see in Figure 4-11, include the
following:
✦ All Notes: Use this option to select all the notes in your selection.
✦ Notes Between: Use this option to specify the range of notes to select.
You can either use pitch references (C1, B1, and so on) or MIDI note
numbers (0–127) for your selection.
Figure 4-11:
Use the
Select/Split
Notes
function to
select
specific
notes or
note ranges.
Performing MIDI Operations
511
✦ Top: Using this option chooses the highest note or notes (depending on
the number you enter) in each chord.
You can also choose other criteria to include in your selection of notes,
including
✦ Velocity Between: Here, you can select the minimum and maximum
velocities to be included in your selection.
✦ Duration Between: Use this option to designate minimum and maximum
note durations.
✦ Position Between: You can also control the location of your selected
notes within certain beat and tick locations in each bar. Again, a
minimum and maximum value determines the start and end points.
After you choose your selection parameters, you need to choose whether
you want to select the notes or to split them. Selecting the Select Notes radio
button simply selects them, but selecting the Split Notes option allows you
to choose from two options:
✦ Copy: This command copies your selected notes.
✦ Cut: This command removes the selected notes from the original track.
The new location of your copied or cur notes is based upon your choice
from the To drop-down menu:
✦ Clipboard: Your notes are placed on the Clipboard.
✦ A New Track: This places your selected notes into a new MIDI track.
✦ A New Track per Pitch: This places each pitch in its own new track.
If you want to include all continuous MIDI data, select the Include All
Continuous MIDI Data check box.
To select notes, do the following:
1. Make a selection on a track or tracks that contain the notes you want
to select.
Book IV, Chapter 2 has all you need to know about making selections.
2. Choose Event➪MIDI➪Select/Split Notes from the main menu.
The Select/Split Notes version of the MIDI Operations window appears.
Performing MIDI
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✦ Bottom: Using this option selects the lowest note or notes (depending
on the number you enter) in each chord.
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3. Enter your note or note range in the window.
Again, your choices here are All Notes, Notes Between, Top, and Bottom.
4. Choose the action for the selected notes (Select Notes or Split Notes).
5. Click Apply.
The Select/Split Notes operation is handy for selecting the snare drum from
a drum sequence before you change its note (pitch) or quantize it.
The Select/Split Notes operation is also handy for taking tom-toms from a
drum sequence and moving them to their own track where you can edit,
pan, and effect them separately from the rest of the drums. Another useful
thing you can do with Select/Split Notes (keeping the drum-track theme
going) is to make a copy of all the kick-drum notes and put them in another
track where you can process them and add them to the original kick during
mixdown. (Hey, why not get your kicks while you can? Sorry about that.)
To actually split notes from a MIDI track, do the following:
1. Make a selection on a track or tracks that contain the notes you want
to select.
Book IV, Chapter 2 has all you need to know about making selections.
2. Choose Event➪MIDI➪Select/Split Notes from the main menu.
The Select/Split Notes version of the MIDI Operations window appears.
3. Enter your note or note range in the window.
Again, your choices here are All Notes, Notes Between, Top, and Bottom.
4. Choose the Split Notes action and then choose to copy or cut the
selected notes from the track.
5. Select the location you want your split material to go: the Clipboard,
a new track, or a new track per pitch.
6. Click Apply.
To place the split notes that you placed on the Clipboard into another track,
do the following:
1. Position your cursor in the destination track at the same point as the
start point of your Split Note operation.
2. Press Ô+V (Mac) or Ctrl+V (PC) to place the copies or cut notes from
your Clipboard into the track.
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Input Quantize
Unless your timing is really bad (or the person you record can’t walk and
chew gum at the same time), I suggest that you disable this function and
quantize — if needed — after your performance is saved. Otherwise, it’s
incredibly easy to overdo the quantizing and end up with a performance
with absolutely no human feel to it.
Figure 4-12:
The Input
Quantize
function
allows
you to
automatically adjust
note timing
while it’s
recorded.
Step Input
Use the Step Input MIDI operation to add MIDI to a track manually. This can
be handy if you want to “create” a performance that you’re unable to play in
real-time. This can be time-consuming, but it would likely be quicker than
learning to play a really difficult part before recording it.
Figure 4-13 shows the Step Input options in the MIDI Operations window.
Here’s a run-down on the parameters you choose from:
✦ Enable: This enables the Step Input function while also disabling any
tracks that were record-enabled. If you have a default MIDI through
instrument chosen (in the MIDI preference menu), it is also disabled.
✦ Destination Track: This is the track where your MIDI notes are added.
Performing MIDI
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Use the Input Quantize operation to set a Quantize value that your recorded
performance is adjusted to automatically as you record it. The fields you can
adjust in the Input Quantize version of the Operations window (see Figure
4-12) are the same as with the Grid/Groove Quantize operation.
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Figure 4-13:
Use Step
Input to add
MIDI notes
manually.
✦ Step Increment: In this section, choose the spacing and duration of your
new MIDI notes. You can choose between whole, half, quarter, eighth,
sixteenth, thirty-second, and sixty-fourth notes. As well, you can also
choose
• Tuplet: Use this to input triplets by dividing the step increment
selected for Step Increment into the value chosen in the tuplet fields.
For example, if you want to input triplets, select the quarter note in
the Step Increment field, select the Tuplet check box, and then enter
3 and 2 in the fields to the right (so that is reads 3 in Time 2). This
places three notes between quarter notes instead of two.
• Note Length: Use this slider to choose a percentage of the note
increment you select in the Step Increment section. For example, if
you want a staccato pattern and you chose eighth notes as your
step increment, you might want to select a 50% value. This will play
the note for only half the total eighth-note duration.
You also have a few options that you choose from when step inputting notes:
✦ Use Input Velocity: Selecting this radio button assigns the velocity that
you play on your instrument to the note.
✦ Set Velocity To: Use this slider to choose a velocity for this note so
you don’t have to worry about playing it at the right volume on your
instrument.
✦ Enable Numeric Keypad Shortcuts: Selecting this check box allows you
to enter your Step Input options via keyboard shortcuts.
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515
✦ Next Step: Clicking this button moves you to the next increment, adding
a rest to your track. If you have a note depressed on your MIDI instrument, this button reads Increment and lengthens your note by the step
increment value that you entered in the Step Increment section earlier.
✦ Redo Step: Clicking this button replaces the note that was removed by
your previous Undo step operation.
Follow these steps to step input MIDI notes:
1. Choose Event➪MIDI➪Step Input.
The Step Input options in the MIDI Operations window open.
2. Select the Enable check box.
This enables the Step Input function.
3. Choose the MIDI or Instrument track from the Destination Track
drop-down menu.
4. Choose your note parameters (listed earlier in this section).
5. Play the note on your MIDI instrument.
Your note is placed in the designated track.
Your cursor moves to the next step in your track. Repeat Steps 3–5 for
each additional note you want to add.
Recognizing MIDI Real-Time Properties
Pro Tools allows you to adjust a variety of MIDI properties in real time while
your song plays. This is done from the MIDI Real-Time Properties window.
This feature is handy if you want to make adjustments to certain MIDI data,
such as quantize, note duration, delay, velocity, and transpose, either across
an entire track or a selected region. This section details this process.
Access the Real-Time Properties window by selecting a MIDI or instrument
track or region and by choosing Event➪MIDI Real-Time Properties from the
main menu. The Real-Time Properties window opens, as shown in Figure
4-14. You can also see and edit real-time properties within the Edit window
by choosing View➪Edit Window➪Real-Time Properties.
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✦ Undo Step: Clicking this button removes the last step input. If you have
a note depressed on your MIDI instrument, clicking this changes the title
to Decrement and removes the last step increment that you added to
your track.
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Recognizing MIDI Real-Time Properties
Figure 4-14:
Perform
MIDI
operations
in real time
here.
The Real-Time Properties window consists of the following parameters
to adjust:
✦ Quantize: This section is where you choose the resolution of the quantization. Your choices range from whole notes to sixty-fourth notes. If you
choose sixteenth notes, for example, your notes will move to the nearest
sixteenth note when you quantize.
• Note: From this drop-down menu, choose the note value of your
quantize grid. Open the drop-down menu by clicking the note. From
here, you can drag to the note value you want as well as add either
triplet or dotted note options. You can also select a groove template
to quantize to.
When you select a note for your grid value. The following options
appear in the window:
• Swing: From this field, create a swing feel (dotted-quarter, eighthnote triplet). You specify a percentage (from 0 to 300); selecting 100%
provides a triplet feel.
• Tuplet: Select this check to select odd note groupings, such as
triplets. When you select this option, you need to fill in the tuplet
value. For example, to create a regular eighth-note triplet, choose 3
in Time 1; for a quarter-note triplet, choose 3 in Time 2.
• Offset: Selecting this option allows you to move the Quantize grid
forward or backward in time by the selected number of ticks. This
is helpful for creating a groove that lies slightly ahead of — or
behind — the beat.
• Strength: This is, in my opinion, the most useful function in the Pro
Tool Quantize operation. You can use it to move your quantized notes
by a percentage (from 0 to 100%) rather than just snapping them
right to the grid. Higher numbers keep more strictly to the grid than
Recognizing MIDI Real-Time Properties
517
do the lower values. Checking this check box results in a text field
appearing where you enter the percentage value for this operation.
• Random: Selecting this option adds a level of randomness to the
quantizing of your selection — no, not to mess up the rhythm, but to
keep it from being too rigid. You can select values between 0 and
100%. Lower values place the randomized notes closer to the grid.
✦ Duration: From this section, you can change the duration of your
selected notes. You have several options to choose from a drop-down
menu located next to the Duration properties option, including
• Set: Select this option to set the duration of your selected notes to
your desired duration, such as quarter notes or eighth notes. Or, you
can type in a specific number of ticks.
• Add: Here, you can add a specific amount to each selected note. You
can choose between typing in a certain tick value or choosing one of
the notes values that appear in the drop-down menu to the right of
the data field.
• Subtract: Like with Add, selecting this option allows you to subtract
your desired value from your selected notes. Again, you can choose
between typing in a tick value or by choosing a note value.
• Scale: Select the scale option to adjust the duration of your selected
notes by the percentage to designate in the data field. Your options
range from 0% to 400%.
• Legato/Gap: Selecting this option extends your selected notes to the
next note, regardless of how far away it is.
• Legato/Overlap: Select this option to extend your selected notes to
the next note and beyond, creating an overlap (hence the name).
Enter the amount of overlap you want in the data field to the right.
You can narrow the effects of your real-time adjustments for note
durations by setting a minimum note duration that will be changed
by the settings you chose from the preceding above by selecting the
Min and/or Max fields and then entering the value that you want.
✦ Delay: Use this property to move your selection a designated amount of
time forward or backward in your session. This can be helpful when
dealing with latencies or creating different feels, such as being “on top
of” (just ahead of) or “behind” (just after) the beat. From the drop-down
menu, choose to either delay or advance your selection. You enter the
amount of this delay or advance in the field using either ticks or samples, which you choose from the drop-down menu to the right.
Performing MIDI
Operations
• Include: Here, you specify a range of notes to include. Selecting this
option quantizes only selected notes that fall within the boundaries
you set here (from 0 to 100%); the smaller the number, the narrower
the range of notes affected.
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Recognizing MIDI Real-Time Properties
✦ Velocity: You’ve likely seen this option before. Use this to change to
velocity (volume of the note strike) of your selection. Engaging this
option opens the Real-Time Properties window to include the following
parameters:
• Dyn: Use this parameter to select a percentage value for the velocity
change you want to implement in your selection. You can choose
percentages between 0 and 300.
• Absolute Value: This unlabeled check box sits to the right of the
Dyn option. Here, you can enter the amount of absolute change of
velocity change you want to all selected notes. You can enter a
value between –127 and +127.
• Min: Selecting this check box engages a minimum velocity that will
be affected by the selections you make in previous options.
• Max: Selecting this check box engages a maximum velocity that will
be affected by the selections you make in previous options.
Selecting both affects only the selected notes that reside between
the minimum and maximum values.
✦ Transpose: Use this option to change the pitch of your selected notes by
the values you select; use one of the following options that exist in the
drop-down menu located to the right of the Transpose title (it’s now
showing “In” key with the text box to the right):
• By: Selecting this transposes your selection by your chosen interval.
Choosing this option from the drop-down menu opens two data fields
in which you can enter octave (the left field) or semitones (the right
field).
• To: Use this to transpose your selection to a specific pitch. Just
select this option form the drop-down menu and enter the pitch in
the data field that appears.
• In: Use this option to transpose in a specific key. Selecting this option
from the drop-down menu adds a data field in which you can enter a
value between –11 and +11. Each number represents a key step.
You can perform the Real-Time Properties functions by using these steps:
1. Open the Real-Time Properties window by choosing Event➪MIDI
Real-Time Properties or View➪Edit Window➪Real-Time Properties.
The Real-Time Properties window opens. Figure 4-14 show the Real-Time
Properties window that appears when you choose Event➪MIDI RealTime Properties option.
Recognizing MIDI Real-Time Properties
519
2. Select the track or region(s) you want to make changes to, according
to the following procedures:
The name of the track will be highlighted, and that track will show up
in the Apply To section of the Real-Time Properties window.
• Region: Use the Grabber tool and click the region to which you want
to apply real-time changes.
To select multiple regions, hold down the Shift key while grabbing.
3. Engage the property you want to use by clicking the particular
property (Quantize, Duration, Delay, Velocity, or Transpose) within
the Real-Time Properties window.
The property becomes highlighted, and the window expands to include
the controls for your chosen property.
4. Select the parameters that you want for your MIDI property. You can
do this while your session plays, or you can start your session after
you make your selection.
You’ll hear the effects that your settings have on your selection while
your song plays.
5. Make any adjustments you want until you get the effect or change that
you’re looking for.
Performing MIDI
Operations
• Track: Click the track to select it.
Book V
Chapter 4
520
Book V: Managing MIDI
Book VI
Mixing in Pro Tools
Contents at a Glance
Chapter 1: Mixing Basics ....................................................................................................523
Chapter 2: Setting Up Your Mix ........................................................................................539
Chapter 3: Using Equalization............................................................................................565
Chapter 4: Digging into Dynamics Processors..................................................................577
Chapter 5: Singling Out Signal Processors ......................................................................597
Chapter 6: Automating Your Mix ......................................................................................607
Chapter 7: Making Your Mix ..............................................................................................625
Chapter 1: Mixing Basics
In This Chapter
Getting to know the mix process
Managing levels
Using control surfaces and external mixers
Understanding the stereo field
Using reference CDs
T
hink about all the time it took for you to record all the tracks for your
song. You spent countless hours setting up mics; getting good, hot (high,
but not distorting) levels on your instruments; and making sure that each
performance was as good as you could get it. You’d think, then, that most of
your work would be done.
Well, on the one hand, it is because you no longer have to set up and
record each instrument. On the other hand, you still have to make all the
parts that you recorded fit together. This process can take as long as it
took you to record all the tracks in the first place. In fact, for many people,
it takes even longer to mix the song than to record all its parts.
In this chapter, I introduce you to the process of mixing your music. You
get a chance to see the basics of mixing using the Pro Tools Mix window.
You also discover how to set up external mixing aids, such as MIDI control
surfaces, digital mixers, and analog mixers. To top it all off, you discover
how to reference your music to other people’s recordings as well as how to
train your ears so that your mix “translates” to different types of playback
systems.
Mixing music is very subjective. You can relate one instrument to another
in an almost infinite variety of ways. You might find that several mixes work
equally well for your song. Allow yourself to experiment — and don’t be
afraid to record several different mixes.
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Understanding Mixing
Understanding Mixing
The goal of mixing is to make sure that each instrument can be heard in
the mix — the recorded whole that results from blending all your recorded
parts — without covering up something else or sounding out of place. You
can pull this off in several ways:
✦ Choose the parts that add to the emotional impact of the music and
build intensity throughout the song. By necessity, this also means
choosing to not use unnecessary parts or those that clash with parts
that have a greater effect.
✦ Set the level (volume) of each instrument relative to the others. That
way, nothing is buried so far back in the mix that you can’t hear it, and
no instrument is so loud that it overpowers the other instruments.
✦ Adjust the equalization (EQ, or frequency response) of each instrument. This leaves room for all instruments in the mix. You get rid of any
frequencies of an instrument that clash with those of another, or emphasize certain frequencies that define the sound of an instrument so it can
be heard clearly in the mix.
✦ Take advantage of stereo panning (movement from left to right). This
puts each instrument in its proper place in the stereo field — toward the
left or right — where it can either sound as natural as possible or produce a desired effect. Also, stereo panning allows you to make room for
each instrument in the mix, especially those with similar frequency
ranges.
✦ Add effects (such as reverb or delay) to the instruments in the mix.
You place instruments in front or in back, relative to other instruments,
or to create a desired sound.
During mixing, you can get really creative in crafting your song. The stress of
capturing great performances is over: All that’s left for you to do is to massage all the parts of your song into a cohesive whole. Don’t be afraid to try
new things. Experiment with different EQ, panning, and effect settings. Take
your time and have fun. The great thing about mixing is that you can make
as many versions as you want — and you can always go back and try again.
Managing Levels as You Work
When you mix all the tracks in your session, the mix bus (which, for its part,
is controlled by the Master fader) is where they end up. There, the signals
are summed (added) and result in a level (volume) that’s higher than that of
Getting Started Mixing Your Song
525
the original tracks. One danger of mixing in-the-box (within Pro Tools) is that
this level can get pretty high, and you might not recognize it unless you
listen very carefully.
While you work, watch the level meter in the Master fader and make adjustments to the individual tracks to bring down the individual levels, rather
than dropping the fader on the master.
The advantage to keeping down peak levels is that you get better levels
going to the mix bus and reduce the chance that some clipping happens.
(Clipping is also called overs in digital recording; it’s distortion that results
when the summed signals end up too hot and overload the mix bus.)
Getting Started Mixing Your Song
Before I start to mix a song, I do a few things to prepare myself for the
process. My goal before I mix is to get in the headspace of mixing. This often
means taking a step back from the song and approaching it as a listener
rather than as the musician who recorded each track. Start the mixing
process by following these steps:
1. Determine the overall quality you want from the song.
At this point, I don’t mean quality in terms of, “Is it good or bad?” Rather,
I define quality here as a musical style or a feeling. Do you want it to
kick? Soothe? Scream? You probably don’t need to think about this too
hard if you had a definite sound in mind when you started recording. In
fact, most composers hear a song in their heads before they even start
recording.
2. Listen to a song or two from a CD that has a sound or feel similar to
the song you’re trying to mix.
Book VI
Chapter 1
Mixing Basics
Many people like to get the most volume out of a song when mixing, so they
crank up the Master fader to where the levels peak right at 0 decibels (dB) or
maybe –0.1dB. This used to be considered okay, but more and more professional engineers are backing off on the mix bus by as much as 6dB. This is
what I recommend as well. Keep your peak levels that go to the Master fader
down to about –3dB to –6dB and make this up when you master (or have
someone else master) your music. Sure, the volume will be lower than
it is on the commercial CDs you own, but you can adjust that during the
mastering process. (Book VII, Chapter 1 has more on mastering.)
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Mixing in Pro Tools
Listen to the examples on your studio monitors if you can; try to get a
sense of the tonal and textural quality of these songs. Listen to them at
fairly low volume; be careful not to tire your ears. All you’re trying to
do at this point is get your ears familiar with the sound you’re trying to
produce in your music.
3. Set up a rough mix, using no EQ or effects, and listen through a song
once.
For this listening session, don’t think like a producer; rather, try to
put yourself in the mindset of the average listener. Listen to the various
parts you recorded — does anything stick out as particularly good or
bad? You’re not listening for production quality. You’re trying to determine which instruments, musical phrases, licks, melodies, or harmonies
grab you as a listener.
4. Get a piece of paper and a pen to jot down ideas while you work.
When you listen through the song, take notes on where certain instruments should be in the mix. For example, you might want the licks
played on lead guitar throughout the song to be muted during the first
verse. Or, maybe you decide that the third rhythm guitar part you
recorded would be best put way to the right side of the mix, while the
other two rhythm guitar parts might be closer to the center. Write down
these ideas so you can try them later. Chances are that you’ll have a
lot of ideas as you listen through the first few times.
Mixing in Pro Tools
Pro Tools comes with a powerful software mixer, and everything you
might want to do can be done via your mouse and keyboard. Even so, many
people — myself included — prefer to mix by using real faders, knobs, and
buttons. This can be done several ways: using a Digi 002 or 003 control
surface, a MIDI controller, a digital mixer, or an analog mixer. These alternative types of mixers are covered in more detail in Book I, Chapter 2; for now,
I just want to cover the basic setups of these various options.
Using the 002 or 003 control surface
If you have a Digi 002 or 003 with the control surface (see Figure 1-1),
your system is automatically integrated within Pro Tools software. With
your system hooked up via a FireWire interface, all your faders, knobs, and
buttons should work seamlessly with the software mixer. When you push a
fader on the control surface, the corresponding track fader on the computer
screen moves as well.
Mixing in Pro Tools
527
Figure 1-1:
Mixing with
the 003’s
control
surface lets
you use
your hands
to control
the mix.
Book VI
Chapter 1
Mixing Basics
Check out the manual for the 002 or 003 to get familiar with the operation of
its control options. Or you can just fiddle around a bit; the controller is set
up very intuitively.
Using a MIDI controller
Quite a few MIDI control surfaces on the market work well with Pro Tools.
(The Mackie Control is one that immediately comes to mind.) If you want to
go the MIDI route, check out the compatibility page on the Digidesign Web
site (www.digidesign.com/compato) to see whether the unit you’re interested in is supported.
Hooking up a MIDI control surface is the same as setting up any MIDI instrument, so go to Book V, Chapter 1 for details on configuring your system.
After you’re hooked up and running, the control surface is basically the
same as using a Digi 002 or 003. All your faders, knobs, and buttons on your
control surface will adjust one of the parameters in the Pro Tools software.
The manual for your MIDI control surface will spell out the function of each
of the buttons. In the case of the Mackie Control, you can get a template that
fits over the surface of the controller and shows you the appropriate functions in Pro Tools listed for easy reference.
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Mixing in Pro Tools
Using a digital mixer
If you want to use a digital mixer with your Pro Tools system, you need to
make sure that you have the proper number of digital inputs and outputs in
your Digidesign interface to connect to your mixer.
With the 003 Rack, for example, you have ten outputs (eight ADAT and two
S/PDIF) that you can use to send your tracks from your computer to your
mixer. (Just make sure that your mixer can accept ADAT and S/PDIF signals —
Book I, Chapter 2 has more in ADAT and S/PDIF — at the same time; otherwise,
you’re down to eight.) This means you can send no more than ten tracks of
material to your mixer to mix.
In this example, if you have a session with more than ten tracks, your digital
mixer becomes somewhat useless unless you want to mix in stages (ten
tracks at a time) or mix in the box (within Pro Tools) and from your mixer.
I don’t recommend this half-in-the-box approach because you’ll have a delay
between the internal track and the tracks sent to your mixer. Any such delay
will really mess with the feel of your music.
To connect your digital mixer to your Pro Tools system, simply run the
appropriate cables (ADAT, for instance) from the output of your Digidesign
interface to the input of your digital mixer. When you move a fader (or a
button or a knob) in your mixer, the corresponding fader (or button or knob)
track in the Pro Tools software you see onscreen won’t be affected.
Using an analog mixer
Like with a digital mixer, your ability to mix in an analog mixer is limited by
how many outputs your interface has. In this case, it all depends on the
number of analog outputs you have. For example, the 002 Rack provides
eight analog outputs, so this is the maximum number of tracks you can mix
with an analog mixer at any one time.
Mixing a session with more than eight tracks can be done, but it’s not worth
the hassle (in my opinion) unless you have a really expensive analog mixer.
Inexpensive analog mixers (those less than $10,000, for instance) won’t
sound any better than mixing within Pro Tools.
If you want to mix your session through an analog mixer, just connect
each analog output from your Digidesign hardware to one of the inputs of
your mixer. In the case of the 002 Rack, you need eight TS cables running
Using the Stereo Field
529
from outputs 1 through 8 to the corresponding inputs of your mixer. (Book I,
Chapter 2 has more on the various cables you meet in the recording world.)
Using the Stereo Field
When you’re at a live concert and you close your eyes, you can hear
where each instrument is coming from on stage. You can hear that certain
instruments are on the left side of the stage, others are on the right, and
still others seem to come from the center. You can also generally discern
whether an instrument is at the front or the back of the stage. Put all these
sound-based impressions together, and you have a 3-D image made of
sound — a stereo field.
Some people choose to set the panning and depth of their instruments to
sound as natural as possible, and others use these settings to create otherworldly sounds. There is no right or wrong when panning and adding effects
to simulate depth — just what works for your goals. Don’t be afraid to get
creative and try unusual things.
Left or right
You adjust each instrument’s position from left to right in a mix with the
Panning control, located in the Pro Tools Mix window. (See Figure 1-2.)
Panning for most songs is pretty straightforward, and I outline some settings
in the following sections. Some mixing engineers like to keep their instruments toward the center of the mix; other engineers prefer spreading things
way out with instruments on either end of the spectrum. There’s no absolute
right or wrong way to pan instruments. In fact, no one says you have to leave
any of your instruments in the same place throughout the entire song. Just
make sure that your panning choices contribute to the overall effect of the
music. (Check out Chapter 5 of this mini-book for how to automate your
panning in Pro Tools.)
Mixing Basics
What makes up the stereo field is the specific placement of sound sources
from left to right and front to back. When you mix a song, you can set your
instruments wherever you want them on the imaginary “stage” created by
your listener’s speakers. You can do this with panning, which sets your
instruments from left to right. You can also use effects (such as reverb and
delay) to provide the illusion of distance, placing your instruments toward
the front or back in your mix. (See Chapter 4 of this mini-book for more on
effects.) When you mix your song, try to visualize where on stage each of
your instruments might be placed.
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Using the Stereo Field
Panning control
Figure 1-2:
The Panning
control in
Pro Tools is
located
above the
main fader
in each
track’s
channel
strip.
Lead vocals
Lead vocals are usually panned directly in the center. This is mainly because
the vocals are the center of attention and panning them left or right takes
the focus away from them. Some people will pan the vocals off center if there
is more than one lead vocal (as in a duet), but this can get cheesy real fast
unless you’re very subtle about it. Of course, you’re the artist and you may
come up with a really cool effect moving the vocal around.
Backup vocals
Because backup vocals are often recorded in stereo, they are panned hard
left and hard right. If you recorded only one track of backup vocals, you can
make a duplicate of the track and pan one to each side, just like you can with
stereo tracks.
In addition to tracks panned to each side, some mixing engineers also have
a third backup vocal track panned in the center to add more depth. Your
choice to do this depends on how you recorded your backup vocals as well
as how many tracks are available for them.
Guitar parts
Lead guitar is often panned to the center, or just slightly off-center if the
sound in the center of the stereo field is too cluttered. Rhythm guitar, on
the other hand, is generally placed somewhere just off-center. Which side
doesn’t matter, but it’s usually the opposite side from any other background
instruments, such as an additional rhythm guitar, a synthesizer, an organ,
or a piano.
Using the Stereo Field
531
Bass
Typically, bass guitar is panned in the center, but it’s not uncommon for
mixing engineers to create a second track for the bass: panning one to the
far left and the other to the far right. This gives the bass a sense of spaciousness and allows more room for bass guitar and kick drum in the mix.
Drums
As a general rule, I (and most other people) pan the drums so that they
appear in the stereo field much as they would on stage. (This doesn’t mean
that you have to, though.) Snare drums and kick drums are typically panned
right up the center, with the tom-toms panned from slightly right to slightly
left. Hi-hat cymbals often go just to the right of center; ride cymbals are just
left of center; and crash cymbals sit from left to right, much like tom-toms.
Percussion instruments tend to be panned just off to the left or right of
center. If I have a shaker or triangle part that plays throughout the song, for
instance, I’ll pan it to the right an equal distance from center as the hi-hat is
to the left. This way, you hear the hi-hat and percussion parts playing off one
another in the mix.
Piano/synthesizers/organs
These instruments are usually placed just off-center. If your song has rhythm
guitar parts, the piano or organ usually goes to the other side. Synthesizers
can be panned all over the place. In fact, synths are often actively panned
throughout the song: That is, they move from place to place.
Front or back
As you probably discovered when you were placing your mics to record an
instrument, the quality of sound changes when you place a mic closer to —
or farther away from — the instrument. The closer you place the mic, the
less room ambience you pick up, which makes the instrument sound closer
to you, or “in your face.” By contrast, the farther from the instrument you
place your mic, the more room sound you hear: The instrument sounds farther away.
Think of standing in a large room and talking to someone to see (well, hear,
actually) how this relationship works. When someone stands close to you
and talks, you can hear him clearly. You hear very little of the reflections of
his voice from around the room. As he moves farther away from you, though,
the room’s reflections play an increasing role in the way that you hear him.
Mixing Basics
Percussion
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Chapter 1
532
Adjusting Levels: Enhancing the Emotion of the Song
By the time the other person is at the other side of the room, you hear not
only his voice but also the room where you’re at. In fact, if the room is large
enough, the other person probably sounds as if he were a mile away from
you, and all the reflections from his voice bouncing around the room may
make it difficult to understand what he says.
You can easily simulate this effect by using your reverb or delay effects
processors. In fact, this is often the purpose of reverb and delay in the
mixing process. With them, you can effectively “place” your instruments
almost anywhere that you want them, from front to back, in your mix.
The less reverb or delay you use with your instrument, the closer it appears
on the recording; the more effect you add to an instrument, the farther away
it seems.
The type of reverb or delay setting that you use has an effect on how close
or far away a sound appears as well. For example, a longer reverb decay or
delay sounds farther away than a shorter one.
In Chapter 4 of this mini-book, I go into detail about the various effects
processors to help you understand how best to use them. I also present
settings you can use to create natural-sounding reverb and delay on your
tracks, as well as some unusual settings that you can use for special effects.
Adjusting Levels: Enhancing the Emotion of the Song
After you have a rough mix and get your EQ (described in Chapter 3 of this
mini-book) and panning settings where you want them, your next step is to
determine which parts of which tracks are used when — and sometimes
whether a part or track is used at all. If you’re like most musician/producers,
you try to get all the wonderful instrumental and vocal parts you recorded
as loud as possible in the mix so that each brilliant note can be heard clearly
all the time. After all, you didn’t go through all the time and effort to record
all those great tracks just to hide them in the mix or (worse yet) mute them,
right?
Well, I feel your pain. But when you get to the mixing point of a song, it’s
time to take off your musician’s hat and put on the one that reads Producer.
And a producer’s job is to sort through all the parts of a song, choose those
that add to its effect, and dump those that are superfluous or just add
clutter. Your goal is to assemble the tracks that tell the story you want to
tell and that carry the greatest emotional impact for the listener.
Adjusting Levels: Enhancing the Emotion of the Song
533
This can be the toughest part of mixing your own songs because you aren’t
likely to be totally objective when it comes to determining what to use and
what not to use. Try not to get stressed out. You aren’t erasing any of your
tracks, so you can always do another mix if you just have to hear the part
that you muted before.
One of the great joys when listening to music (for me, anyway) is hearing a
song that carries me away and pulls me into the emotional journey that the
songwriter had in mind. If the song is done well, I’m sucked right into the
song; by the end, all I want to do is listen to it again.
Generally, a song starts out quiet, becomes a little louder during the first
chorus, and then drops down in level for the second verse (not as quiet
as the first, though). The second chorus is often louder and fuller than the
first chorus, and is often followed by a bridge section that is even fuller yet
(or at least differs in arrangement from the second chorus). The loud bridge
section might be followed by a third verse where the volume drops a little.
Then a superheated chorus generally follows the last verse and keeps
building intensity until the song ends.
When you’re crafting the mix for your song, you have two tools at your
disposal to build and release intensity: dynamics and instrumental content
(the arrangement).
Dynamics
Dynamics are simply how loud or soft something is — and whether the loudness is emotionally effective. Listen to a classic blues tune (or even some
classical music), and you’ll hear sections where the song is almost deafeningly silent, and other sections where you think the band is actually going to
step out of the speakers and into your room. This is an effective and powerful use of dynamics. The problem is that this seems to be a lost art, at least
in popular music.
It used to be that a song could have very quiet parts and really loud ones.
Unfortunately, a lot of CDs nowadays have only one level — loud. This often
isn’t the fault of the musicians or even the band’s producer. Radio stations
and record company bean counters have fueled this trend, betting that if
Book VI
Chapter 1
Mixing Basics
What is it about certain songs that can draw you in and get you to feel the
emotion of the performers? Well, aside from a good melody and some great
performances, it’s how the arrangement builds throughout the song to
create tension, release that tension, and build it up again. A good song builds
intensity so that the listener feels pulled into the emotions of the song.
534
Tuning Your Ears
a band’s music is as loud as (or louder than) other CDs on the market, it’ll
attract more attention and sell more copies. (You can read more about this
trend in Book VII, Chapter 1.) But consider this: Whether you can hear the
music is one thing; whether it’s worth listening to is another.
Try recording a song with a lot of dynamic changes. I know this bucks the
trend, but who knows? You might end up with a song that carries a ton of
emotional impact. Also, while you mix your song, incorporate dynamic
variation by dropping the levels of background instruments during the
verses and bringing them up during the chorus and bridge sections of the
song. You can always eliminate your dynamic variation (if you absolutely
have to) by squashing your mix with compression during the mastering
process.
The biggest mistake that most people make when they mix their own music
is to try to get their song as loud as commercial CDs. This is the mastering
engineer’s job, however, and not yours, so don’t worry about it. Get your
song to sound good with a balance between high and low frequencies and
loud and soft sections. Let the mastering engineer make your music as loud
as it can be. He or she definitely has gear that is better designed to raise the
volume of a recording without making it sound squashed or harsh.
The arrangement
Building intensity with the arrangement involves varying the amount of
sound in each section. A verse with just lead vocal, drums, bass, and an
instrument playing the basic chords of the song is going to have less intensity (not to mention volume) than a chorus awash with guitars, backup
vocals, drums, percussion, organ, and so on. Most songs that build intensity
effectively start with fewer instruments than they end with.
When you mix your song, think about how you can use the instruments to
add to the emotional content of your lyrics. For example, if you have a guitar
lick played at every break in the vocal line, think about using it less to leave
space for lower levels at certain points in your song. If you do this, each
lick will provide more impact for the listener and bring more to the song’s
emotion.
Tuning Your Ears
To create a mix that sounds good, the most critical tools you need are your
ears because your capability to hear the music clearly and accurately is
essential. To maximize this capability, you need a decent set of studio monitors and a good idea how other people’s music sounds on your speakers. You
Tuning Your Ears
535
also need to make sure that you don’t mix when your ears are tired. The following sections explore these areas.
Listening critically
One of the best ways to learn how to mix music is to listen to music that you
like — and listen, in particular, for how it’s mixed. Put on a CD of something
similar to your music (or music with sound that you like) and ask yourself
the following questions:
✦ What is the overall tonal quality or texture of the song? Notice how
the frequencies of all the instruments cover the hearing spectrum. Does
the song sound smooth or harsh, full or thin? Try to determine what you
like about the overall production.
✦ Where are the instruments in the stereo field? Notice where each
instrument is, from left to right and front to back, in the mix. Listen to
see whether they stay in one place throughout the song or move around.
✦ What effects are being used on each instrument? Listen for reverb and
delay — in particular, how they affect decay lengths — as well as for the
overall effect level compared to the dry (unaffected) signal.
✦ What tonal quality does each instrument have? Try to determine the
frequencies from each instrument that seem dominant. Pay particular
attention to how the drums sound, especially the snare drum. You’ll
notice a good mix lets all the instruments fit without fighting one
another. Drums can take up a lot of room in the mix if you don’t narrow
them down to their essential frequencies.
Even if you’re not mixing one of your songs, just sit down once in a while and
listen to music on your monitors to get used to listening to music critically.
Also, the more well-made music you hear on your monitors, the easier it is to
know when your music sounds good on those same speakers.
A good mix should sound good on a variety of systems, not just through the
speakers in your studio. Before you decide that a mix is done, copy it onto
a CD and play it in your car, your friend’s stereo, and a boom box. In fact, try
to listen to your music on as many different kinds of systems as you can.
As you listen, notice whether the bass disappears or becomes too loud or
whether the treble becomes thin or harsh. Basically, you’re trying to determine where you need to make adjustments in your mix so that it sounds
good everywhere.
Mixing Basics
✦ How does the song’s arrangement contribute to its overall feel? Listen
for licks or phrases that add to the arrangement. Notice whether the
song seems to get fuller as it goes on.
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Tuning Your Ears
Unless you spent a lot of time and money getting your mixing room to sound
world-class, you’ll have to compensate when you mix to get your music to
sound good on other people’s systems. If your room or speakers enhance
the bass in your song, the same tracks will sound thin on other people’s
systems. On the other hand, if your system lacks bass, your mixes will be
boomy when you listen to them somewhere else.
Choosing reference CDs
A reference CD can be any music that you like or that helps you to hear
your music more clearly. For the most part, choose reference CDs that have
a good balance between high and low frequencies and that sound good to
your ear. That said, some CDs are mixed really well, which can help you get
to know your monitors and train your ears to hear the subtleties of a mix.
I name a few in the following list. (Disclaimer: I try to cover a variety of
music styles in this list, but I can’t cover them all without a list that’s
pages long.)
✦ Steely Dan, Two Against Nature
✦ Lyle Lovett, Joshua Judges Ruth
✦ Norah Jones, Come Away with Me
✦ Sting, Brand New Day
✦ Ben Harper, Burn to Shine
✦ Leonard Cohen, Ten New Songs
✦ Beck, Mutations
✦ Peter Gabriel, So
✦ Sarah McLachlan, Surfacing
✦ No Doubt, Return of Saturn
✦ Los Lobos, Kiko
✦ Marilyn Manson, Mechanical Animals
✦ Depeche Mode, Ultra
✦ Bonnie Raitt, Fundamental
✦ Macy Gray, On How Life Is
✦ Pearl Jam, Yield
✦ Metallica, S&M
✦ Dr. Dre, 2001
Tuning Your Ears
537
All commercial CDs have been mastered. This is going to affect their sound a
little: Most importantly, they’ll be louder than your music in its premastered
form. If you toggle between your mix and a reference CD, adjust the relative
levels so that each one sounds equally loud coming through your speakers.
The louder song always sounds “better.” And whatever you do, don’t try to
match the volume of your mix to a reference CD.
Dealing with ear fatigue
If you’ve ever had a chance to mix a song, you might have found that you do
a better mix early on in the process — and the longer you work on the song,
the worse the mix gets. In most cases, this is because your ears get tired —
and when they do, hearing accurately becomes harder. To tame ear fatigue,
try the following:
✦ Keep the volume low. I know you’ll be tempted to crank the volume on
your song while you work on it, but doing so only tires your ears prematurely and can cause damage, especially if you have monitors that can
get really loud.
✦ Take a break once in a while. Just 10 or 15 minutes of silence can allow
you to work for another hour or so. Also, don’t be afraid to walk away
from a mix for a day or more.
✦ Try not to mix under a deadline. This suggestion fits with the preceding one. If you’re under a deadline, you can’t give yourself the time you
need to rest and reassess your mix before it goes to print.
Making several versions
One great thing about digital recording is that it costs you nothing to make
several versions of a mix. All you need is a little (well, actually a lot of) hard
drive space. Because you can make as many variations on your song’s mix as
your hard drive allows, you can really experiment by trying new effects settings or trying active panning in your song and see whether you like it. You
might end up with something exciting. At the very least, you end up learning
more about your gear. That’s always a good thing.
Print (that is, make a clear recording of) a mix early on. Most of the time,
your best mixes happen early in the mixing process. Print (or save) the first
good mix you make before you try making more “creative” ones. That way,
if you get burned out or run out of time, you still have a decent mix to fall
back on.
Mixing Basics
✦ Don’t mix at the end of the day, especially after doing any other
recording. Save your mixing for first thing in the morning when your
ears have had a chance to rest.
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538
Book VI: Mixing in Pro Tools
Chapter 2: Setting Up Your Mix
In This Chapter
Understanding signal flow
Routing inserts and sends
Getting to know the Output windows
Using plug-ins
Processing external effects
B
efore you can actually mix anything in Pro Tools, you have to get
a few preliminaries out of the way first. More specifically, you need to
become familiar with the Mix window, have a good grasp of how the signal
flows through the system, know how to create auxiliary inputs and master
faders, and get up to speed on inserts and sends. This chapter gives you the
details on all these things.
Revisiting the Mix Window
When you mix in Pro Tools, you spend most of your time working in the
Mix Window, as shown in Figure 2-1. The Mix window contains the channels
strips for each track, routing information, and your master faders. Each part
of the Mix window is covered in detail in Book II, Chapter 4.
To open the Mix window, choose Window➪Mix from the main menu or press
Ô+= (equal sign; Mac) or Ctrl+= (equal sign; PC). You can then set up the
display parameters of the window by choosing View➪Mix Window from the
main menu and choosing the options you want included in the view, as
shown in Figure 2-2.
540
Revisiting the Mix Window
Figure 2-1:
The Mix
window is
where you
do your
mixing in
Pro Tools.
Figure 2-2:
Select
parameters
to view in
the Mix
window.
Getting to Know Signal Flow
541
Getting to Know Signal Flow
Knowing how the tracks you record are routed through Pro Tools can
help you make the best choices and keep your sound top-notch while you
mix your song. Figure 2-3 shows how the signal (represented by the regions
in your audio tracks) flows through the track channels in the Pro Tools
mixer (shown in the Mix window).
The audio enters the mixer at the top of the diagram and flows downward.
From top to bottom, the channel strip contains the following sections:
✦ Insert: This lets you insert effects into your track. Inserts in Audio and
Auxiliary Input tracks occur before the fader (pre-fader) for the track.
Inserts on the Master fader tracks occur after the fader (post-fader).
✦ Send Pre-fader: This lets you send your signal to an Auxiliary Input
track where you can then insert an effect.
✦ Mute: This button lets you mute (turn off) the output of the track.
✦ Fader: This lets you control the level (volume) of your signal leaving the
track and going to the output(s) you choose in the Output section of the
channel strip.
✦ Send Post-fader: When you have the Pre button disengaged, your Send
signal is sent from your track after it passes through the track fader.
Adjusting the volume of the track also adjusts the level going through
your send.
✦ Pan: This lets you adjust how much of your signal goes to the left or
right channel of your stereo output. This option is available only if your
Output setting is set for stereo.
✦ Output: This is where your signal goes as it leaves the track’s channel
strip. This can be the master bus, or an effect or submix bus (controlled
by an Auxiliary Input track).
To create a new track (audio, MIDI, auxiliary input, or Master fader), choose
Track➪New from the main menu to call up the New Track dialog box, where
you can choose the type of track you want to create. (Book III, Chapter 1
covers this process in detail.)
Book VI
Chapter 2
Setting Up Your Mix
✦ Source: This is the audio recorded to your hard drive; or, if you have the
track record-enabled, the signal coming from the input you selected in
the Input section of the channel strip. The signal starts here and enters
the Track’s channel strip.
542
Rounding Out Your Routing
Source audio or input
Insert
Send Pre-fader
Mute
Fader (track volume)
Send Post-fader
Figure 2-3:
The signal
flows
through Pro
Tool’s mixer
from top to
bottom.
Pan
Output
Rounding Out Your Routing
When you start mixing in Pro Tools, it helps to have few routing setups
under control. You need a Master fader so you can control the volume leaving Pro Tools, and you need to know how to use the Insert and Send portions
of the channel strip so that you can insert effects into your tracks. The
following sections outline these procedures.
Rounding Out Your Routing
543
If you’re using version 6 or later, you can make a track inactive by
Ô+Control-clicking (Mac) or Ctrl+Windows-clicking (PC) the Track Type
indicator in the lower right of the track’s channel strip (as shown in Figure
2-4). This frees up processing power, which I recommend for any tracks in
your session that you don’t want to play.
Using a Master fader
You use a Master fader to control the level coming out of all the tracks routed
to it. Here’s a short list of a few of the things you can do with a Master fader:
✦ Control the main level of your mix. This is the standard use of this
fader. All your tracks are routed to the Master fader, and you use it to
control the overall level going to your monitors.
Figure 2-4:
Make a
track
inactive to
free
processing
power.
Click here to make
a track inactive.
Setting Up Your Mix
✦ Control submix levels. To control submix levels, route the tracks that
you want to submix to one of your buses and assign the input of the
Master fader to this bus. The output of this Master fader goes to your
Master bus. You can set the individual levels of the submixed track at
each track’s fader and the combined level at this submix’s Master fader.
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Rounding Out Your Routing
✦ Control effect-send levels. You can route your sends — signals going
through the Send section of your track — to a bus and designate that
bus as the input of a Master fader. You can then insert your effect into
this Master fader’s input, setting the resulting output to go to your mix
bus’ Master fader.
✦ Add effects to your entire mix. You can add effects, such as compression or reverb, to the entire mix by placing it in the insert of the
Master fader.
To create a Master fader, follow these steps:
1. Choose Track➪New from the main menu.
The New Track dialog box appears.
2. Use the drop-down menus to enter the number of tracks you want, the
type (in this case, choose Master Fader) and whether you want your
tracks(s) in stereo.
3. Click Create.
The Master fader appears in your session.
4. Click the Master fader’s Output selector — the second of the three
buttons in the middle of the channel strip — and set it to the output
that you want it to control.
If you want to make this the Master fader for your main mix bus, set this
to the main outputs that all your tracks are routed to.
Adding auxiliary inputs
Auxiliary inputs are pretty much like audio tracks except that they receive a
signal from within Pro Tools instead of from some external source (such as a
microphone). Auxiliary inputs let you route internally and are great for some
vital mixing tasks such as
✦ Sending several tracks to a single effect processor: This can reduce the
stress on your system and can help you to make your tracks sound more
cohesive — by blending their reverb sounds together, for example.
✦ Controlling a submix with a single fader: Submixing combines tracks
before they are mixed by the Master bus. Chapter 7 in this mini-book
details how to perform a submix in Pro Tools.
✦ Inputting audio signals from your MIDI devices: This lets you monitor
the output from your MIDI devices when your MIDI tracks trigger them.
To create an auxiliary input track, follow these steps:
1. Choose Track➪New from the main menu.
Rounding Out Your Routing
545
The New Track dialog box appears.
2. Use the drop-down menus to enter the number of tracks you want, the
type (in this case, choose Auxiliary Input), and whether you want your
tracks(s) in stereo.
3. Click Create.
The auxiliary input appears in your session.
4. Click the track’s Input selector — the topmost of the three buttons in
the I/O section of the channel strip — and choose the source for this
track.
This can be an internal bus or a hardware input.
5. Click the Output selector — the second of the three buttons in the
Inserting inserts
Inserts are effects that you can place into a track’s signal to alter its sound.
For example, inserting a compressor lets you control the dynamic range of
your track, and inserting a delay can add an echo effect to your instrument.
You can have up to five inserts in each track in Pro Tools. You can use either
hardware or software (plug-in) effects in these inserts.
The signal passes through the effects in the order — from top to bottom —
in which they appear in the Insert section of your track’s channel strip. For
example, in Figure 2-5, the signal goes through the compressor before it goes
through the reverb. To change the order of your insert, simply click and drag
it up or down the list.
Figure 2-5:
Rearrange
inserted
effects by
dragging.
To insert an effect into a track’s channel strip, follow these steps:
1. Enable the Insert view in the Mix window by choosing View➪Mix
Window➪Inserts from the main menu.
The Insert section of the Mix window appears at the top of your track’s
channel strip.
Setting Up Your Mix
middle of the channel strip — and set it to the output you want to
send the signal.
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Rounding Out Your Routing
2. Click an entry in the Insert section to open the drop-down menu.
3. Select a plug-in to insert (or the hardware output/input you want if
you’re using an external effect).
If you choose a plug-in, the plug-in window opens. (See the “Playing with
Plug-ins” section, later in this chapter, for more information.)
Turning off the effect in an insert
Here are the three ways to turn off the effect in an insert:
✦ Remove the insert. To remove the insert from the track, choose No
Insert from the Insert drop-down menu. (Click and hold over the arrows
located to the left of the Insert name to access the menu.) This removes
the insert from the track and moves any inserts below it up the line.
✦ Bypass the effect. Do this by engaging the Bypass button in the plug-in
window. To open this window, click the Insert name in the Insert section
of the track’s channel strip. This keeps the effect inline but turns it off.
The effect still draws processing power even though you don’t hear it.
✦ Make the insert inactive. Do this by pressing Ô+Control (Mac) or
Ctrl+Windows (PC) while you click the plug-in’s name in the Insert section of the channel strip. Doing so removes the effect from the signal
chain but not from the Insert section. This frees up processing resources
and allows you to turn on the insert at any time. (You simply repeat the
keystrokes-and-click you used to turn it off.)
Setting up sends
You can send the signal from your track to another bus for processing. Pro
Tools lets you have up to five such sends per audio or auxiliary track. Sends
are useful for two major purposes:
✦ Applying effects to more than one track, which you can do internally
(using a plug-in) or externally (using a hardware device)
✦ Creating submixes that combine several tracks into one or two tracks
You can choose to send the signal pre-fader or post-fader, which means
the signal going to the send is either sent before or after it travels through
the track’s fader. The Pre-Fader or Post-Fader options, along with the Send
Level, Panning, and Mute options, are accessed through the Send window, as
shown in Figure 2-6. You access this window by clicking the Send name in
the Send section of the track’s channel strip. If the Send section isn’t visible
in the track’s channels strip, enable the Send view in the Mix window by
choosing View➪Mix Window➪Sends from the main menu.
Rounding Out Your Routing
547
Figure 2-6:
Use the
Send
window to
determine
send level,
mute, pan,
and pre- or
post-fader
settings.
Book VI
Chapter 2
1. Enable the Send view in the Mix window by choosing View➪Mix
Window➪Sends from the main menu.
The track channel strips expand to include the Sends section, located
between the Inserts and I/O sections of the channel strip.
2. Click one of the entries in the Send section to open the entry’s
drop-down menu.
3. Select the bus or hardware output/input to which you want to send
the signal.
The Send window opens.
4. In the Send window, select Pre-Fader or Post-Fader.
Selecting Pre-Fader sends the signal from your track before the fader
control for that track and selecting Post-Fader sends the signal after it
passes through the channel’s fader.
5. While still in the Send window, adjust your level, panning, and mute
settings.
To assign an effect to this sent signal, follow these steps:
1. Choose Track➪New from the main menu.
The New Track dialog box appears.
Setting Up Your Mix
To assign a send, follow these steps:
548
Rounding Out Your Routing
2. Use the drop-down menus to enter the number of tracks you want, the
type (in this case, choose Auxiliary Input), and whether you want your
tracks(s) in mono or stereo.
3. Click Create.
The auxiliary input appears in your session.
4. Assign the input for this auxiliary track to the bus that you chose for
your send destination in the previous list.
5. Follow the steps for inserting an effect into a track.
See the earlier section, “Inserting inserts.”
Viewing sends
You can view your sends, send controls, and send assignments by opening
the following windows in your session:
✦ Send A-E Views: You can see the controls for a send in the track