One of the most important timing tools during a studio recording is usually the click track or ‘metronome’ as it should really be called. This helps the performers to stay in time during their takes, but more importantly ensures that all of the instruments come together in time when mixed.
A click track within Pro Tools does not always load as standard within a session, this guide will show you how to create, modify and bypass one.
Creating The Track
Within Pro Tools, the click/metronome will run from its own track, to create this simply navigate to Track > Create Click Track.
You now notice that an additional track has been added to your session with the ‘click’ insert already applied. Now that you have the track loaded you can either leave it as it is within your session or hide it as all the settings for it are applied elsewhere. The only thing you may want to change on the track itself is the overall level, or if you click the ‘click‘ plug-in, you can set the level between the accented and unaccented beats as shown below.
Now that you have created your click track, lets look at how it can be turned on and off. At the far right of your transport bar you should see the ‘midi controls’ as seen below.
If your transport bar is missing these options then all you need to do is extend it by clicking the small drop down arrow and selecting ‘Midi Controls‘.
Within the midi controls of the transport bar you will see a small metronome looking symbol, when this is a dark blue colour the click will be audible (on) and when it is grey it will be inaudible (off).
Quick Tip: If you have commands focus enabled, the click can be activated/deactivated by pressing the ‘7’ key on your numeric keypad.
Setting The Meter
The meter of the click track, for example 4/4, can be modified from the transport bar, by simply double clicking on the meter options you can choose the exact meter you would like for your session. You will also be asked where you would like this change to start from, this is for sessions which may have meter changes throughout.
The meter can also be changed from the time operations window which can be accessed by going to Event > Time Operations > Time Operations Window where you will be presented with a similar looking window which again will allow you to make changes over a small area of a session or until the end of your session. In most cases you will probably choose the ‘to session end‘ option which will give your session one consisted meter.
Setting The Tempo
Much like the meter of the click track, the tempo is something which can be changed in a number of different ways, it too can be edited across a selection or for the duration.
You can perform a tempo change from the ‘tempo operations window’ which can be accessed from Event > Tempo Operations > Tempo Operations Window simply choose where you would like the tempo to start/end, which tempo you would like and then click apply.
Within the edit window you also have access to the time ruler which also displays tempo information. By double-clicking the red diamond in the tempo bar, you will be presented with another dialog window which asks what you would like to set the tempo as.
On a final note, you may also notice in the transport bar there is a setting labelled ‘Count Off‘ which can be turned on and off; this is a time value which will be played before the cursor placement. This is used during recording to allow the performer some time to prepare before reaching the point where recording will start.
For example if the cursor was placed at bar four and there was a count off value of 1 bar, the click would begin at bar three but the recording would not start until bar four still.