Learn about how to use Track Type icons in the Mix window and Status Indicators in the Edit window. Get a quick overview of a session and track status.
- [Instructor] When you sit down to begin mixing a session that you're not familiar with, the first task is to figure out what you're facing. A good place to start is to evaluate the track arrangement and to get an overview of the session status. Here, I'm looking at the mix window for a version of the Crash Down session by The Pinder Brothers. Let's get an overview of what this session entails. Each track in the mix window displays a track type icon at the bottom that can help you quickly get acquainted with the track layout. The very first track here is the drum's VI.
This is an instrument track which is using the Xpand!2 virtual instrument on insert A. Instrument tracks are recognizable by the keyboard icon here. The next set of tracks, drums, drum loop, bass, and keys, are all audio tracks as indicated by the waveform icon here. Next, we have three piano tracks. These are all midi tracks, which you can recognize by the midi five pin connector icon. These three tracks are feeding the mini grand plugin here on the piano VI track.
The piano VI is an aux input track, as shown by the down pointing arrow icon. This icon indicates that the track plays audio through it without recording the audio to disk. Next, we have a series of additional audio tracks for guitars, vocals, and background vocals, followed by some additional aux input tracks used as FX returns and the master fader. Master fader tracks are recognizable by the sigma icon, indicating that they represent the sum of the audio for a specific output or bus path.
So the layout here is more or less working from rhythmic tracks on the left to more prominent tracks on the right with tracks grouped together by instrument type. Drums, bass, keyboard and pianos, guitars, vocals, and background vocals. At the end of the session we have the FX tracks and the master fader, which is pretty typical. So now let's switch to the edit window to see what that looks like. I'll press command equals and I'd like to get an overview of the entire session, so I'll double click on the zoomer tool, which zooms out to show the longest track within the edit window.
Now it's always good to get an idea where the action is on each track to get a basic feel for what sections of the mix might require more attention than others. We can see the song's structure mapped out here in the markers ruler, so that'll be a big help, and we can also see that the drums, bass, keyboards, piano, and first guitar parts are all playing pretty consistently throughout the entire song. We've got a bunch of additional guitars coming in starting in the chorus section, and then of course, the guitar solo, and it looks like we've got some acoustic guitars starting here around the second chorus.
So let's look at the vocals. The main vocal parts are alternating between the first two tracks and it looks like we've got some vocal doubles and octaves in various areas, and then we've got a variety of background vocal elements starting in the middle of verse two and then coming in and out in the choruses and a few other places, so we'll have to pay special attention to the mix in those areas. At the top of the edit window, we also have various status indicators for the session.
These first two indicators relate to the audio in your session. If any audio files are missing, these indicators will light red. Next to them is the delay compensation indicator. If this indicator is off, go to the options menu and enable delay compensation. That'll help avoid timing discrepancies between tracks. To the right of the delay compensation indicator is the task manager status indicator, which was introduced in Pro Tools 12.6. This indicator shows an animated icon whenever a background task is in progress, such as when searching in a workspace browser.
Next to that is the global freeze icon, which illuminates in blue whenever one or more tracks in the session is frozen. And lastly, we have the solo and mute indicators. The solo indicator will illuminate in yellow when one or more tracks in the session is soloed. So here, we can tell that a track is soloed somewhere in the session. So instead of having to hunt through all my tracks to find and clear the solo, I can simply click on the indicator here and that will clear all solos in the session.
The mute indicator illuminates in red when one or more tracks is muted, but unlike solos, mutes cannot be cleared using this button. So if you want to unmute a track, you will have to locate it first. This helps safeguard against unmuting tracks accidentally. So those are some things you can do to get an overview of a session before starting to work on a mix. Use the track type icons in the mix window to assess the track layout and understand each track's purpose, zoom out in the edit window to get a global view of all the clips on each track, refer to the markers ruler to get familiar with the song's structure, and use the session status indicators in the edit window for insight on other conditions, such as soloed or muted tracks.
Now of course, you'll want to use your ears as your primary assessment tool, but the above steps can go a long way toward making sense of what you're hearing.
- Starting a new session
- Customizing settings
- Optimizing the performance of Pro Tools
- Importing loops and tracks
- Working with meter changes
- Recording multiple takes
- Changing the track timebase
- Editing MIDI clips
- Warping sound and tightening rhythm with Elastic Audio
- Using the Smart Tool
- Color coding tracks
- Editing on the grid
- Working with AudioSuite plug-ins
- Working with sends, plug-ins, and master faders
- Working with track subsets
- Finalizing and exporting media