Lesson 4


Recording In Pro Tools

We will now cover some basic steps for setting up a new Pro Tools session and recording an audio track.

Launch Pro Tools and select
Create Blank Session.

Screen shot 2012-04-05 at 8.19.44 AM


You will now see the
Save dialog window.
Screen shot 2012-04-05 at 8.20.26 AM

Name your session “your last name”-session 1 in the
Save As dialog box. It is best to save your session to the desktop of your computer for easy access.

After you have entered the above information, click on the
Save button.

Once you hit the save button, Pro Tools will take you to the
Edit Window. The Mix Window will also appear on the desktop as the smaller of the two widows usually behind the Edit Window.

There are two basic windows that you will be working with in Pro Tools.
The Mix Window and the Edit Window. You can change windows by going to the Windows pull down menu at the top of the screen and selecting either Mix or Edit. Practice switching between the two windows. Also notice the keyboard short cuts when going between the windows. You may close either window by clicking on the upper left button located at the top of each widow. Practice closing and opening each of the two windows.

Adding An Audio Track

Make sure that you are in the Mix window and then create a mono audio track by selecting New… from the Track pull down menu.

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Once you have selected mono and audio track click on the
Create button. You will now see your track in the Mix window. It will also appear in the Edit window as well. If you have the screen space, you may prefer to have both windows open at the same time.

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Double click on
Audio 1 at the bottom of your track to label your track Voice 1. You will see the following window:

Screen shot 2012-04-05 at 8.21.46 AM


You may also add any comments that you might have about the track by clicking in the comments window. Once you are finished, click the
OK button.

Notice that the name Voice 1 now appears at the bottom of the track.

Selecting An Input Source

Make sure that you are in the Mix window and that your Voice 1 track is visible. We are now going to select the input source that your microphone is plugged into. (Make sure that you have plugged your microphone into your Pro Tools audio source).

Single click on the
Audio Input Select located in the middle of the channel strip.
Screen shot 2012-04-05 at 8.35.23 AM

The
Input button is the top most button.

Screen shot 2012-04-05 at 8.35.44 AM

This allows you to select the input source that your microphone is plugged into. Please note that depending on which interface you are using, your input source may look different. My input source is a Degidesign M-Box.

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In this case, I have selected the M-Box
Built1 as my input. My microphone is plugged into the Analog 1 input on my M-Box.

You may also want to set your output path at this time. The
Output button is located just below the Input button.

Screen shot 2012-04-05 at 8.36.26 AM


Setting The Input Level

Record enable your voice track by single clicking on the record button located just above the channel fader on your channel strip in the Mix Window. Notice that the button and the fader will now turn red and will be blinking.

Screen shot 2012-04-05 at 8.36.46 AM
Record enabled track in the Mix Window.


Setting The Record Level

Once you have selected your input and plugged a microphone into the input you will need to set your recording level so that you are capturing the strongest possible signal. Do this by adjusting the input of your audio interface. In my case I am speaking into my mic and adjusting the fader knob on my Mbox 2 to get the hottest possible signal without clipping.

Listed below are some examples of input levels and the resulting audio Waveform.


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In this example, the recording level is too low and the result is a thin audio waveform. The signal to noise ratio is much too small. This will likely result in a low level of signal, and a high level of background noise.



Screen shot 2012-04-05 at 8.37.22 AM
In this example, the recording level is too hot and is clipping. Notice the red box at the top of the input level indicating that the signal is too strong and is overloading the input.
The resulting waveform is a big thick block that will most likely sound distorted.



Screen shot 2012-04-05 at 8.37.38 AM
Ahh, the perfect input signal and a glorious waveform! Life is good!

When you are recording different instruments, your input levels will change, especially when you are recording an instrument with a lot of transients (transients are those sounds that peak and last for only a short time) The whack on a snare drum, when recording an entire drum set, is a good example of a transient. The snare sound may distort your input level.

Adjust your input level so that you are getting the strongest possible signal without distorting the input. (Note that by moving the fader down on the channel strip you don’t change your input level) Input levels need to be adjusted on your hardware source. In my case, I adjust the input knob on my M-Box.

Spend some time finding a good input level for the Voice 1 Channel.

Begin to familiarize yourself with the
Transport Window Controls.

Make sure that your transport window is showing. If it is not, from the Window Pull Down Menu select Transport.

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Let’s Record!

Once you have found a good level for your voice, and the track is record enabled, we are now ready to record an audio track.

Click the record button in the Transport window. The record button should turn red and start blinking.

Screen shot 2012-04-05 at 8.39.24 AM
Record button is red. (just pretend that it is blinking)

Click the Play button in the
Transport Window to start recording.

Record your voice for 10-15 seconds and then click on the Stop button in the
Transport Window or hit the space bar on your keyboard to stop. Note that if you have the Count Off button selected in the
Transport WindowScreen shot 2012-04-05 at 8.39.41 AM you will hear a count off before you can begin to record. To turn the Count Off off, just click on the button to de-select it. Screen shot 2012-04-05 at 8.40.46 AM

Click on the
Return To Zero button in the transport window to return to the beginning of your session.

Click on the play button in the
Transport Window to hear your recorded voice.

When a track is playing back, notice that the level indicator for the track is now green and filling up the bar.

Screen shot 2012-04-05 at 8.41.07 AM
Level indicator is green/yellow indicating that audio is present.

Looking At The Edit Window

Let’s take a look at the waveform of your recorded voice.

Open the
Edit Window in Pro Tools by clicking on the Window pull down menu and selecting Show Edit.

You should now see your recorded voice as a sound wave.

Screen shot 2012-04-05 at 8.41.28 AM
Sound wave for my voice.

You can still play your session by using the
Transport controls or by hitting the space bar on your computer keyboard.

To view a brief tutorial of this session click on the following link:

Tutorial 1

Saving Your Session:

Now that we have recorded something into Pro Tools, you should save your session.

Go to the
File Pull Down Menu and select Save. When you are working on a project in Pro Tools, you should save your work often. I also recommend backing up all your sessions onto another hard drive. If you have a computer problem, you can always count on having a back up to rebuild your session.

Pro Tools Project 4

Set up more audio tracks and practice recording your voice or other instruments. Experiment with different levels and notice the difference in the sound waves.



Working With Click Tracks And The Conductor Ruler

Click tracks are used in many recording sessions, especially if you are recording each musician one at a time. Usually, the drummer will come in and play to a click track. That way, the drummer can adjust to any tempo or meter changes that may occur in the song. It is also easier to edit audio if you set up the Pro Tools Conductor with any tempo or meter changes. Once the click track is added, along with a drum part, all the other musicians will have an easy time laying down their parts by playing along with the drummer or the click track.

Pro Tools has integrated a click track feature right into its program that is easy to use and easy to set up.

In Pro Tools there are several types of conductor rulers:
Bars:Beats
Minutes: Seconds
Samples
Markers
Tempo
Meter
Key Signature

You will use many types of rulers when working on a session. They will allow you to program tempos, meters, and the view different sections of your session.

Make Sure that your Saved Session 1 is open, and that you are viewing the
Edit Window.

To view all of the conductor tracks in the
Edit Widow, select Rulers from the View pull down menu and select the rulers that you desire. A check mark will appear to the left of each selected ruler. I usually just check the All box.

Creating A Marker

Let’s create a marker for our saved Session 1. Find the Bars/Beats pull down menu located on the upper left-hand side of the Edit Window

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Use the pull down arrow and highlight Markers

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You will now see the Markers window appear directly below the Bars/Beats pull down menu
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Click on the + sign to the right of
Markers. You will now see the following dialog box:

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The Marker Memory Location window.

Lets put a marker in our Session 1 session. In the New Memory Location dialog box, under Name: title your marker “My Voice” and click OK.

You should now see your marker in the Markers Ruler right above your voice audio on the left hand side of the Edit Window.

Screen shot 2012-04-05 at 8.45.05 AMMy Voice Marker

If you want to move the marker to a precise location, you have to do the following:

Make sure that you have selected Spot Mode
Screen shot 2012-04-05 at 8.45.23 AM from the Edit Window.

Single click on the marker icon
Screen shot 2012-04-05 at 8.45.56 AM to the left of “My Voice” and you will now see the Spot dialog box so we can place the marker.

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Marker Spot dialog box.


For our marker location, type 3/1/000. Because our Time Scale is set to Bars:Beats this tells us to locate our marker in Measure 3 Beat 1. Don’t worry about the 000 for now.

Click
OK and your marker icon should appear in measure 3!

If you want to delete a
Marker, switch to Slip Mode from Spot Mode, grab the Marker and move it downward until it turns into a trashcan. Your Marker is gone!

Markers are especially useful for finding your place in your session. Since we are not working with music notation, it is sometimes hard to tell where the bridge and A sections are in your song. It is also best to keep your marker titles short. Like A or B (b for bridge) that way, the markers ruler doesn’t get too crowded.

Creating A Meter Change

Creating a Meter Change is very similar to creating a Marker. Find the Bars/Beats pull down menu located on the upper left-hand side of the Edit Window

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Use the pull down arrow and highlight
Meter.
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Click on the + to the right of the Meter Ruler and follow the dialog box. It is that simple! You will also see your Meter displayed in the Meter Ruler.

Hint: If you want your measure bar to display single measures at a time locate the + and - button at the lower right-hand side of the
Edit Window Screen shot 2012-04-05 at 8.48.23 AM Use the + to display single measures

Screen shot 2012-04-05 at 8.48.53 AM
Single Measure Display.

To view a brief tutorial of this session click on the following link:

Tutorial 2

Creating A Click Track In Pro Tools

Keep your session 1 document open.

Make sure that you are in the
Mix Window.

Create a new mono audio track and title it Click Track.
(See page 2 if you forgot how to create a track)

You are now going to insert the Click Plug-in into the Audio Track’s Inserts section. Make sure that you have selected Inserts A-E from the Mix Window Views menu located in the View pull down menu.

The
Inserts section is located in the top most part of the channel strip. Once you have located it, select Plug-in, Instrument, Click (mono).

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Inserts menu. Select Click (mono)

Once you have selected Click (mono) the following dialog box will appear:

Screen shot 2012-04-05 at 8.50.29 AM
Click Track dialog box.

You can alter the accented or unaccented if you desire. Now just hit the space bar and you will hear your click track.

If you are not hearing a click, make sure that you have selected the metronome icon in the transport window.
Screen shot 2012-04-05 at 8.50.48 AM

If the Metronome icon is not visible in the transport window, from the View pull down menu , select Transport and make sure that Expanded is checked.

Screen shot 2012-04-05 at 8.51.20 AM
Selecting Expanded Transport controls.

If you have put any meter changes or tempo changes into your session, the click track will follow right along! How cool is that?

To view a brief tutorial on creating a click track, click on the following link:

Tutorial 3


Project 5: Setting Up A Click Track

Set up a new Pro Tools session and title it “Your Name MIDI Click”. For example, my project would be titled Pfenninger MIDI Click.

Set up a click track using one of the methods described above.
Set your beginning tempo to 112 and make tempo changes as follows:

Measure 3/1/000 120

Measure 6/2/000 80 with a meter change to 5/4

Insert Markers as follows:

Measure 1/1/000 (titled) A

Measure 5/2/000 (titled) B


Project 6: Recording With A Click Track

Open a new Pro Tools session, and set up a click track. Record your voice or another instrument onto an audio track.

Recap: Lesson 4

This week we spent some time learning basic Pro Tool’s concepts. You should have a better understanding of:

Creating a new Pro Tools Session.
Setting up Audio Tracks
Selecting Input and Output Sources
Setting Recording Levels
Basic Audio Recording
The Conductor Ruler
Click Tracks
Markers and Memory Locations
Changing Meters
Changing Tempos
Recording With A Click Track

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