Join David Franz for an in-depth discussion in this video Understanding samples and ticks, part of Pro Tools 8 Essential Training.
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Every track in Pro Tools has an underlying timebase that defines where audio and MIDI data are placed within a session's timeline. There are two different time bases, Sample and Tick. We can see those options clearly when we create a new track. We can choose from Samples or Ticks. A Sample is a slice of audio that has an absolute time base built on the sampling rate where each sample is placed at an exact and absolute location in the session and only moves if you move the region in the session.
Now I discuss sampling rate in the creating a Pro Tools session video. So check that out if you haven't already. In contrast of Samples, a Tick is a slice of time. Its length is relative based on the tempo. When using Ticks as a timebase each quarter note in the Pro Tools tempo grid is divided into 960 subdivisions called Ticks. Thus the duration of a tick varies according to the tempo of the session. A faster tempo will yield shorter tick lengths. 960 ticks per beat may seem like a lot of subdivisions but that doesn't even come close to the number of subdivisions in sample based tracks.
The tempo of a song would have to be over 2700 BPM for ticks to be able to rival samples in detail at a 44.1 kHz sampling rate. And if I double-click on the song start marker to change the tempo, put in 2700, nope, I can't do it. I can only go up to 500. So it's not even an option. However tick based tracks have some serious advantages too. MIDI performances data has tick base by default, because MIDI events are locked to the tempo of a session. Thus if the Tempo of the session is changed MIDI notes will follow the tempo changes and not lose their bar and beat location.
However, sample-based audio will not follow the tempo change. Watch these two tracks down here. This is a MIDI track. This is an audio track. And you'll see the MIDI tracks moves when I change the tempo, but the audio track will not. All of this data here has changed to follow the tempo. However this data has not. For example, in this audio track the sample that happens exactly at this moment, which we can find out what number that it is, this particular sample will not move if we change the tempo.
However, you can also make audio tracks tick-based and the power of tick-based data is that the audio can then lock to the bars and beats of the session. Even when the tempo of the session changes. And we'll cover this in the videos about Elastic Audio later in this course. Sample and tick based tracks can coexist in a Pro Tools session. However, each track must be either one or other, not both at the same time, and you can change the track's timebase at any point while working in this session by toggling the Timebase Selector right here on each track.
Now you understand the difference between what a sample is and what a tick is and I recommend keeping the default timebase for each track when you create new tracks, but then you can change them later if you really need to.
- Exploring all facets of the Pro Tools interface
- Setting up Pro Tools hardware and software properly
- Recording and editing audio and MIDI
- Comping a track using playlists
- Importing data and working with video
- Working with automation and controller lanes
- Applying dither
- Archiving a session for storage