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Rich Webb

Need some help getting started - apparently missing the obvious

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Hello,

I am extremely new to cakewalk and audio in general.  I am an IT professional that was asked by my church to manage the sound/multimedia area.  We have a behringer x32 in which I have successfully set up to output it's channels to cakewalk and have successfully made a multi-track recording of our worship service.  We have keys, a flute, bass and some vocals.  

I made the recording on my laptop at the church and then took it home to try to edit it and improve the audio.  I have managed to set up the output to play through my headphones and now I'm trying to just figure out how to edit the song - I have gathered that it is oriented around making takes but I can't seem to figure out how to use a track or series of tracks as the input for the take.  It keeps wanting to record my microphone audio in the take.

What I'm trying to accomplish is to play the songs back adjusting instrument and vocal levels to make everything balanced and adding some fx to make it sound better.  I seem to be missing something obvious.  I watched a bunch of tutorials but seemingly key pieces of information are either omitted as being obvious or I'm just not following the workflow.

Anyone that could help would be greatly appreciated! Thank You in advance!

Rich

Edited by Rich Webb

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So if you have recorded the performance to a Cakewalk project file, you should be able to open that project in Cakewalk on another computer and just edit the tracks directly.  A best practice, especially while you are learning, is to make changes to a copy of the original project. Before you start it is also probably wise to take the time to understand the limits of Cakewalk's undo, and work out a process of saving various versions of your edited project. "Takes" are not a necessary part of the process, but are more useful when recording multiple versions of the same performance so that individual versions can be easily compared. As to how you do the edits, that is the purpose of the manual, and because Cakewalk has so much flexibility it is not something that can be explained in a few sentences. 

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I suggest you watch a series of videos from Creative Sauce on recording a song from beginning to end. The links can be found in the Tutorial section of this forum (which also includes other media that can be of great value) and is on YouTube. Here is the YouTube link for the first video in the series. Take the time and watch them all.

Record, Mix, and Release a Song (Part 1): Getting Started with Recording a Song in a Home Studio

I also suggest you download a copy of the Cakewalk Reference File and look through it. There's a lot of terminology involved and it's a big help to have a good understanding of the process and the names for specific processes and labels used in Cakewalk.

https://bandlab.github.io/cakewalk/docs/Cakewalk Reference Guide.pdf

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Thank you for both your replies.  I will follow the tutorials and also grab the reference guide.  Seems like very powerful software.  Will be fun once I understand how to use it better. 

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So a quick Google indicates the x32 includes a 32-channel USB audio interface.

Dumb question, maybe, but since you're new to audio recording...

Did you install drivers for that interface and record individually miced instruments to separate tracks in Cakewalk or did you just record a stereo mix via analog output from the x32 into the line input of your laptop?

Edited by David Baay

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On 4/1/2020 at 4:32 PM, David Baay said:

So a quick Google indicates the x32 includes a 32-channel USB audio interface.

Dumb question, maybe, but since you're new to audio recording...

Did you install drivers for that interface and record individually miced instruments to separate tracks in Cakewalk or did you just record a stereo mix via analog output from the x32 into the line input of your laptop?

Sorry for the delayed response - for some reason I didn't get an email notification even though it's set to notify me. 

I did install the drivers and am using the audio interface.  Each instrument is coming in on it's own track.  I also have a separate analog aux send to another PC that I'm recording as a backup.  But as far as Cakewalk goes yeah I have each instrument/vocal on it's own track.

Since my original posting our church has stopped meeting to do worship before the message due to the virus situation so right now I'm basically only recording a single track lapel mic for the pastor to record his message.  

I haven't gotten through the tutorials yet since they seem to be focused around creating music with cakewalk.  I'm sure later on they will get to the editing part that I'm looking for and I'm sure all of it is good information.  Unfortunately I don't have enough time to sift through all the information so I'm getting bits and pieces where I can.  

The long and short of it is I have this very long multi-track recording (of for example a worship service) and for certain parts of it I want to lower some track levels (read not so good vocals) while increasing others (read much better vocals or instruments etc).  But these levels aren't constant through the whole recording.  I can't get my head around how to make those adjustments to that part of the recording while changing it up for other parts.  

I did figure out how set the output of the tracks to an aux bus and record that aux bus as I playback and manipulate the levels.  It gets me the desired result but it seems like there must be an easier way.  Things are starting to settle down in the IT realm so I'm going to look through some more of the tutorials once I get some time. 

Rich

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1 hour ago, Rich Webb said:

The long and short of it is I have this very long multi-track recording (of for example a worship service) and for certain parts of it I want to lower some track levels (read not so good vocals) while increasing others (read much better vocals or instruments etc).  But these levels aren't constant through the whole recording.  I can't get my head around how to make those adjustments to that part of the recording while changing it up for other parts.  

I did figure out how set the output of the tracks to an aux bus and record that aux bus as I playback and manipulate the levels.  It gets me the desired result but it seems like there must be an easier way.

So what you're talking about is recording volume automation in real time. Basically what you want to do is click the 'W' (Write Automation) button on a track (or multiple tracks), start playback, and Cakewalk will record moves of the Volume fader (best done in the Console view) as an automation envelope line overlaid on the track in the Track view.  I don't know what level of integration is possible between the Behringer and Cakewalk as control surface that would allow you to use the physical faders to write the automation. If it's working as a control surface, you can probably write automation for multiple tracks at once. If you have to use the Cakewalk UI, you'll probably want to work just one track at a time, making multiple playback passes.  Also, you can right-click the W button to get different write modes/behaviors, depending on what you need.

You can also draw automation envelopes with the the mouse or edit automation tha was written in real time after the fact. To draw an automation envelope from scratch, start by clicking the Edit Filter in the track, and choosing Automation > Volume to create a flatline automation envelope at 0dB as a starting point for adding nodes to change the level. There are different types of transitions between nodes available so that you don't have to draw every node to to get all the curves, lines or jumps you want.

For more info, see the Cakewalk Ref. Guide on Automation.

P.S. If you don't see some of the controls and options I'm talking about, make sure your Workspace is either 'Advanced' or just 'No Workspace', and change the Control Manager dropdown at the top of the tracks pane to show 'All' or 'Mix' controls.

Edited by David Baay

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17 minutes ago, David Baay said:

So what you're talking about is recording volume automation in real time. Basically what you want to do is click the 'W' (Write Automation) button on a track (or multiple tracks), start playback, and Cakewalk will record moves of the Volume fader in the track as an automation envelope line overlaid on the track.  I don't know what level of integration is possible between the Behringer and Cakewalk as control surface that would allow you to use the physical faders to write the automation. If it's working as a control surface, you can probably write automation for multiple tracks at once. If you have to use the Cakewalk UI, you'll probably want to work just one track at a time, making multiple playback passes.  Also, you can right-click the W button to get different write modes/behaviors, depending on what you need.

You can also draw automation envelopes with the the mouse or edit automation tha was written in real time after the fact. To draw an automation envelope from scratch, start by clicking the Edit Filter in teh track, and choosing Automation > Volume to create a flatline automation envelope at 0dB as a starting point for adding node to change the level. There are different types of transitions between nodes available so that you don;t have to draw nodes to get all the curves and jumps you want.

For more info, see the Cakewalk Ref. Guide on Automation.

Thank You David, this is likely the missing link.  Yes I believe the X32 can act as a control surface based on some quick searching in google and the forum.  I'll have to work to get that set up because that would make things much easier. 

I wondered what the automation stuff was for so now on to reading about that.  

I started going back through the creative sauce tutorial videos.  I watched a couple and they are just way too in depth for what I'm doing.  They are great information but I would say "information overload" for me.  I really just want to record a worship service and get it somewhat balanced - maybe add a couple of effects to enhance the sound and call it good.  Not doing 62 tracks of recording.  Now that I know automation is what I'm attempting to do maybe I'll go back and see if one of his tutorials is on automation. 

Then once you get all the automation done with the levels I assume you just export the mix to a single file? 

Rich

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9 minutes ago, Rich Webb said:

Then once you get all the automation done with the levels I assume you just export the mix to a single file? 

Yes you can export direct to a stereo file using the 'Entire Mix' option in the export dialog, or...

I like to 'Bounce to Tracks' the whole mix to a track named 'Master Bounce' that ouputs directly to  the interface 'main outs' in parallel with the 'live' mix on the Master bus. Then I group the mute buttons on that track and the Master bus in opposition so I can switch back and forth between them to make sure the rendered mix sounds the same as the live mix (no missing tracks, or issues with timing, imaging, levels, FX rendering, etc.). Then I export just that one track. In addition to letting you confirm that 'what you hear is what you get', this lets you have a copy of the Master preserved within the project for furture reference. And you can bounce different mixes to alternate lanes of the Master Bounce track, and use the lane solo buttons to quickly A/B them as the mix evolves (faster switching than using Mix Recall, though that's also a feature you should get to know).

Getting back to the task of bringing the best parts of the performance to the fore with automation, you should also look into using  compression FX plugins on the better/more important performances to raise their overall RMS 'energy' level without raising peak amplitude levels which has the effect of making them louder and bringing them 'forward' in the mix relative to other tracks.

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