Numeric Keypad: In Depth
The numeric keypad as you may already know is a very handy tool which controls a range of features within Pro Tools, but did you know that the numeric keypad has three available modes which completely change its performance?
The three options available are Transport, Classic and finally Shuttle (HD Only), this tutorial will explain how each of the modes work and how they can be enabled.
The mode settings, along with many other great and unknown features, are held in the Preferences window, this can be accessed by navigating to Setup > Preferences.
Within the Preferences window you will need to navigate to the Operations tab where the Numeric Keypad options are displayed.
Towards the bottom left hand corner of the Transport area, you will see the three available options as well as a checkbox which allows for separate Play and Stop keys.
When separate play and stop keys is enabled, you can start playback with the ‘enter’ key of the numeric keypad and can stop playback with the ‘0’ key also on the numeric keypad.
This is probably the keypad mode you are most familiar with as it is usually the default set option. In this mode the keys will perform the functions listed below.
- 0 – Start/Stop Playback
- 1 – Rewind
- 2 – Fast Forward
- 3 – Record Enable
- 4 – Loop Playback (On/Off)
- 5 – Loop Record (On/Off)
- 6 – Quick Punch (On/Off)
- 7 – Click (On/Off)
- 8 – Countoff (On/Off)
- 9 – MIDI Merge (On/Off)
You can also create and call up memory locations in this mode, the ‘enter’ key will bring up the memory location dialog window, and they can be called up by using the shortcut Period(.) > Memory Location Number > Period(.).
Within this Transport mode you can also playback up to two tracks in Locked Shuttle mode, this may make more sense after reading about the Shuttle numeric keypad mode below. The basic principle of shuttle mode is that playback can either be sped up or slowed down. Within transport mode it can be activated by using the shortcut CTRL_1-9 (mac) START_1-9 (windows) the number pressed with the modifier key will denote the playback speed, to put the numbers in perspective 5 is standard playback, the lower you go below it the slower the playback will be and the higher you go the faster.
While Locked Shuttle mode is active, you can also make use of the other keys on the numeric keypad to control it:
- The +/- keys decide the direction of the playback
- 0 stops playback (pressing a number again will commence playback
The Escape key or Spacebar will turn off the locked shuffle mode returning playback to normal.
Shuttle Mode (Pro Tools HD Only)
As briefly described above, shuttle mode allows you to use the numeric keypad to adjust the playback speed. The Shuttle keypad mode works in a similar way to what was described in the previous section except the shortcuts are slightly different.
There is no need to use any modifier keys here, instead, you simply need to press and hold a number to begin playback at a given speed, releasing that key will stop playback again. The speeds are as follows:
- 1 – 1/4 x Rewind
- 3 – 1/4 x Forward
- 4 – 1 x Rewind
- 6 – 1 x Forward
- 7 – 4 x Rewind
- 9 – 4 x Forward
- 1 + 2 – 16 x Rewind
- 2 + 3 – 16 x Forward
- 4 + 5 – 1/2 x Rewind
- 5 + 6 – 1/2 x Forward
- 7 + 8 – 2 x Rewind
- 8 + 9 – 2 x Forward
Quick Tip: Whilst in Shuttle mode, Pre and Post roll values will be ignored during playback.
Classic mode will make the numeric keypad function as it did back in Pro Tools version 5.0, it provides two functions depending on how the keys are used. The first function is Locked Shuttle which functions exactly as it does within Transport mode (See the Transport Mode section above).
The second function of Classic mode is the calling up of memory locations, while in this keypad mode, memory locations can be called by using the shortcut Memory Location Number > Period(.).
We hope that this tutorial has helped you to understand yet another hidden option within Pro Tools. If you need to play back material at different speeds, or would like a quicker way to call up your memory locations, then perhaps a change in your numeric keypad mode may benefit your production process.
It should be stated that no matter which mode you are in, you can still use the numeric keypad to enter numbers elsewhere, such as when entering a new value into the main counter for example.
Sure, at what email address?
I could really use this functionality as I am going through long long interview recordings that I’m editing for a radio story.