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Recording audio

From: Ableton Live 8 Essential Training

Video: Recording audio

Producing a song that sounds good starts with recording good-sounding audio. Let's discuss how on gain structure and recording levels affect audio quality, and learn how to record audio into Ableton Live. As the signal passes through a recording system, there are multiple places to adjust the signal level. The general rule is to raise the signal level to the desired level at the beginning of the signal path and then maintain that signal to output. The first place in the signal path that the level can be adjusted is at the microphone preamp in the audio interface. The preamp is necessary because the output level of microphones is generally low.

Recording audio

Producing a song that sounds good starts with recording good-sounding audio. Let's discuss how on gain structure and recording levels affect audio quality, and learn how to record audio into Ableton Live. As the signal passes through a recording system, there are multiple places to adjust the signal level. The general rule is to raise the signal level to the desired level at the beginning of the signal path and then maintain that signal to output. The first place in the signal path that the level can be adjusted is at the microphone preamp in the audio interface. The preamp is necessary because the output level of microphones is generally low.

Use the Preamp Gain knob to adjust the level as necessary. While setting levels in preparation for recording, it is best to keep your headphone or speaker monitor levels at a moderate or reasonable level. This will protect your ears and your speakers in case there is a sudden increase in the volume level. The monitor level is typically controlled from the monitor output control on the Audio interface. When setting monitor levels, it's a good idea to use a sound pressure meter. The listening level should average in the 80 to 85 dB range; anything higher than that will cause ear fatigue and ear damage.

Turn the preamp up until the signal is averaging around -60 beyond the level meter. To see the numeric read out on the meter in Live, increase the height of the meter area and the track width. Next, record-enable the track so that you can see the audio level showing in the meter. If you set the preamp gain too high, you will peak the track and if you set it too low, the audio won't be loud enough. So remember our target is right there around -6 dB.

Next, click the Record button on the desired clip to go into record. As I talk here, you can see signal on the meter. I am averaging around -6dB, and down here in the hotspot, I can see the audio waveform drawing. If I click on that, you will see the waveform here in the overview area. To stop recording, press the Stop button or Spacebar on the computer keyboard. Okay. I will click the Record button to disable. To synchronize the recording to the groove or any other clips that are playing in the session, you may want to enable the metronome.

Remember, we can do that by clicking the Metronome button on the control bar. And if you need a count-in, you can right- click on Metronome button and choose a count-in from the contextual menu. Our choices there are None 1 Bar, 2 Bars, and 4 Bars. Before, during, and after recording, you'll want to be able to monitor the input signal. Live allows three monitoring options. Most frequently, we are on auto monitoring, and that means when a track is record-enabled, the track input is monitored. When not record-enabled, Live automatically switches to monitoring the clips that were already recorded and are playing on the track.

Sometimes, you'll want to choose Input monitoring, or the In button. This will allow you to practice and hear what you are playing when not recording. You will know that you're in Input monitoring because the In button turns orange, and the track activator also turns orange. Other times, you will choose the Off option. Off switches off monitoring a track through Live. This is useful when using an audio interface that allows you to monitor record- enabled tracks at the input to the interface. So after you've finished an audio recording, you need to evaluate it. What is the difference in level between the sound source and any noise, like computer drives or fans? Is the audio signal level loud enough that it masks any noise present? Also, are there and pops or distortion from plosive consonants, like Bs, Ds or Ps? If there are, you'll probably want to re-record using a pop filter if one is available.

If not, try turning the microphone 45 degrees off axis and talk across the microphones diaphragm. Also, is the sound clear and undistorted? If not, try backing off the microphone a few inches. Also, how is the tone quality of the recording? Is it warm and full, or muddy and brittle? If you don't like the tone quality, again try turning the microphone off-axis or try using a different microphone. If both dynamic and condenser microphones are available, make several recordings and compare the differences. Recording audio into a program like Ableton Live can yield great results, if you are aware of how gain structure and recording levels affect the audio quality.

Now that we understand those issues, you're ready to get out there and start recording.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for Ableton Live 8 Essential Training
Ableton Live 8 Essential Training

69 video lessons · 16902 viewers

Rick Schmunk
Author

 
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  1. 1m 30s
    1. Welcome
      49s
    2. Using the exercise files
      41s
  2. 8m 43s
    1. What is a digital audio workstation?
      4m 13s
    2. Choosing the right gear and setting up a system
      4m 30s
  3. 12m 59s
    1. Setting up audio preferences
      3m 54s
    2. Setting up MIDI preferences
      3m 31s
    3. Optimizing performance
      5m 34s
  4. 35m 42s
    1. Understanding Session view
      8m 7s
    2. Working with Live browsers
      5m 3s
    3. Working with Live clips
      7m 57s
    4. Understanding clip properties
      7m 52s
    5. Working with Live scenes
      6m 43s
  5. 28m 16s
    1. Building Live Sets and projects
      4m 25s
    2. Learning Live file management
      4m 2s
    3. Exporting content from Live
      7m 32s
    4. Importing and exporting Live Packs
      3m 17s
    5. Searching for and auditioning clips
      4m 58s
    6. Setting up frequently accessed folders
      4m 2s
  6. 23m 3s
    1. Preparing to record MIDI
      5m 51s
    2. Recording and overdubbing MIDI
      4m 32s
    3. Working with alternate MIDI entry methods
      6m 49s
    4. Using multi-output virtual instruments
      5m 51s
  7. 24m 26s
    1. The MIDI Editor
      4m 49s
    2. Quantizing MIDI data
      6m 6s
    3. Advanced MIDI editing
      6m 49s
    4. Setting up groove in editing
      6m 42s
  8. 9m 18s
    1. Preparing to record
      5m 0s
    2. Recording audio
      4m 18s
  9. 22m 37s
    1. Understanding Arrangement view
      3m 41s
    2. Recording in Arrangement view
      3m 51s
    3. Recording from Session view to Arrangement view
      5m 21s
    4. Reworking clips
      9m 44s
  10. 27m 57s
    1. Understanding Live's mixer
      12m 38s
    2. Using sends and returns
      3m 47s
    3. Building headphone cues
      3m 49s
    4. Grouping tracks
      7m 43s
  11. 43m 14s
    1. Working with effect devices
      4m 56s
    2. Understanding EQ and filters
      7m 14s
    3. Using compressors and dynamic processors
      7m 28s
    4. Building interesting effects with delay effect processing
      8m 18s
    5. Using reverb effectively
      8m 22s
    6. Setting up side chain effects easily
      6m 56s
  12. 15m 37s
    1. Creating rhythmic patterns with the Arpeggiator effect
      8m 38s
    2. Building background parts with the Chord and Scale effects
      6m 59s
  13. 25m 24s
    1. Building automation patterns
      8m 44s
    2. Editing existing automation information
      5m 3s
    3. Using fades to mask audio pops and clicks
      4m 10s
    4. Understanding the power of clip envelopes
      7m 27s
  14. 20m 17s
    1. Understanding the basics of looping
      6m 54s
    2. Creating tracks that loop smoothly
      7m 50s
    3. Using warp features to quantize audio
      5m 33s
  15. 17m 47s
    1. Using the computer keyboard to control Live
      6m 39s
    2. Mapping device controls to the MIDI keyboard
      4m 36s
    3. Using Live's instant mapping feature
      6m 32s
  16. 10m 44s
    1. Exporting audio
      5m 37s
    2. Freezing tracks
      5m 7s
  17. 20m 45s
    1. Building with the Impulse virtual instrument
      11m 35s
    2. Working with the Simpler virtual instrument
      9m 10s
  18. 36m 22s
    1. Overview of Live racks
      10m 13s
    2. Combining instruments and effects into a single device
      8m 22s
    3. Adding effects with Drum Rack
      11m 28s
    4. Assigning rack parameters to macros
      6m 19s
  19. 13m 53s
    1. Setting up ReWire with Pro Tools
      7m 3s
    2. Setting up ReWire with Logic
      6m 50s
  20. 33m 43s
    1. Preparing audio clips with the Warp tool
      14m 31s
    2. Triggering clips using follow actions
      8m 9s
    3. Using Live as a sound source
      11m 3s
  21. 7m 21s
    1. Working with video files
      7m 21s
  22. 37s
    1. Further Recommendations
      37s

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