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Creating a click track

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Hi all,

I've been asked to create a backing back track with no drums and a click track for the drummer. How do I do this so only the drummer hears the click?

It's for a high school student who's more than likely going to be playing the track on a laptop for an exam.

Thanks :)

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You might have to give some more information.  Are many people listening to this at the same time so they need to hear the drum track but you want the drummer to not hear the drums all from within Cakewalk?  Do you want to export a backing track file that has all the instruments and the click but no drums to a file?

 

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Posted (edited)

In it's simplest format all you need to do is export a stereo wave/Mp3  file mixed without drums ( click track) in the left and then the with the drums ( click track) in the right track. This is called a "Split track" format that is pretty common. 

Then it's a simple matter of splitting the stereo signal which alas is not easily done internally within a laptop but very easily done through any external sound system. 

Complicated ways to do this would involve using an audio interface and sending the different mixes left/right. 

Edited by John Vere

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You can record hi hat on a track as a click track. Then the drummer can play listening to the hi hat track. Simple like that.

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On 5/16/2020 at 12:23 PM, reginaldStjohn said:

You might have to give some more information.  Are many people listening to this at the same time so they need to hear the drum track but you want the drummer to not hear the drums all from within Cakewalk?  Do you want to export a backing track file that has all the instruments and the click but no drums to a file?

 

There will be a drummer and a singer. They will both need to hear the track but only the drummer needs to hear the click.

I've been asked to create a backing back track with no drums so the drummer can play the drum part.

Ideally I would send them an mp3, yes, but I'm not sure how to route the audio so that will work.

 

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This is stuff we've done a lot over the years. It's fiddly but if you approach it in the right way, it's fairly foolproof.

Basically, it's like people have said here - you'd split the MP3 as the drummer mix with the click on one side and the front of house mix on the other side. To do it right, you'll need a cheap mixer or you have a world of potential issues to deal with (which isn't to say it won't work, but your chance of failure will increase).

So, get your mix together and set up 2 BUSS tracks: Drummer and FOH. Send those to your sound card outputs.

Set them both to mono, pan Drummer 100% left, and FOH to 100% right.

Change the output for every track except for the click to go to FOH. This will be what you're sending to the audience and whoever else wants it (say, the foldback speakers across the front of the stage). Bear in mind that if you have any tracks with crazy stereo effects, it might be best to set those to mono or it could sound a little crappy once it's all folded down to mono at the end and panned to the right in your FOH Buss.

Set the click track output to go to the Drummer Buss.

Then, go through any other track you'd like the drummer to hear and add a send to Drummer Buss and set it to PRE. That's going to be the mix you'll want to send to your drummer. The reason I'm suggesting PRE rather than POST is that typically you'll want the click track BLASTING loud and the balance to be a little different to what you'd send out to the front of house. So those sends will kind of be a completely independent mix to what you're sending to FOH.

At this point you can mix this down to an MP3 and have your drummer mix on the left, and the front of house on the right. And you could play that back with an iPod or whatever, with a split headphone cable sending one side to the drummer's headphones and the other side to the mixer.  But where this is a problem is that you'll need to make sure the mixer side is running through a DI so you're getting the proper signal levels, and the drummer will either only be getting audio in his left earphone, or if you've set it up so the channels are joined, we found there's a good chance on some players that it ends up giving you all kinds of bleed, and worse, it may not actually be loud enough if you've got someone who hammers his kit.

What I'd suggest is running into 2 channels of a cheap mixer.  Run the left output into channel 1 for the drums, and the right output into channel 2 for the front of house. Typically those little mixers have balanced outs so you should just be able to plug an XLR into it and you're all set. Drums, you should be able to plug your headphones into the phones out and you'll get HEAPS of level for the drummer. The only real gotcha here is the routing can be a little weird on some mixers so you're getting independent outputs. As a good example, we used to run a Mackie 4 channel mixer. The click/drum send would go to the drummer via the headphone output, but we had to send to the front of house vix an Aux send on it, because there was no way to split the channels and have them come through both ears of the drummer's headphones without that. Your mileage will vary from mixer to mixer though, but I definitely recommend that over a split cable thing.

The other option you could try is dragging a laptop on stage and running the outputs of your soundcard directly to each place while the mix is playing back, It's a little more risky for problems to appear during a show, but you have complete control over who gets what then, and taking a lot of steps out of the equation. Not recommended if you don't have a beefy machine or a soundcard with good drivers and decent headphone preamp / balanced outs.

Hope that makes sense! :) 

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Hey @Lord Tim, thanks so much for your message and sorry for my late reply!

Where does mastering come into the above equation? I guess I mix my track, master it, then set up my 2 bus tracks as you say above?

I also have no idea what this student is going to play the track through. It's for a high school so you never know. I would assume he'd need at least a 2 channel mixer, yes? 

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Posted (edited)

Yeah, if you're bouncing down to 2 track for MP3 then you'd have it all prepped first, which would include mastering. I'd caution against doing too much mastering-wise though, since it'll be going through a PA, into various speakers, getting processed there and there'll be a room sound involved too. Keep it as simple as you can.

Really, you need to come up with an inventory of what you have first, and then work with that to reach the goal. I mean. I could say "just get your 32 channel I/O and patch that into the foldback desk via a splitter and then send each feed to foldback and in-ears", but if you have none of those things, any advice you'd be given would need to be adapted anyway.

Edited by Lord Tim
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So I do my panning/bussing at the mixing stage, then export that to an MP3?

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If you have the means to, you'd do a specific mix to use in a live situation.

For example, knowing that one output will go to the PA and the other will go to the drummer, any stereo panning effects would be flying between what the audience hears and what the drummer hears, so it doesn't make any sense to use anything like that. Go as mono as possible with your mix, split it to separate busses (one for the drummer with click on three too, and one for the PA) and yes, export that as your MP3.

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Thanks Tim. Just to be sure I'm on the right track, if you take a look at my screenshot here, I'm assuming I pan the click left and the instruments right?

Should I convert the audio tracks to mono before exporting the final MP3?

Screenshot 2020-06-11 21.18.11.png

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The easiest way, rather than converting anything is to change the Interleave button on each track from Stereo to Mono (look in the Inspector just above the Mono/Solo/Arm buttons) . That'll achieve the same thing, but non-destructively. And then make sure you pan the click left, and instruments right as you said, HOWEVER you may need some of those instruments still going to the drummer, so rather than 100% right, maybe do 70% so there's still a bit going to the left channel.

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Posted (edited)

Split Track has been around along time. Locally I've been asked to make these for Schools and Churches. This was put on a Cassette in those days and then their sound person would just have to split the cassette outputs into 2 different channels of the mixer as Tim is saying. A simple matter of then sending those mixes to either FOH or monitors. 

In my acoustic duo we use backing tracks that  originate as finished songs we have recorded.  So they have vocals, guitars,banjos, mandolin, drums and keyboards as well as the Bass. When we perform we want  only the bass for FOH. So my split is with the Bass track Left and the "band" in the right. 

To make the split track my easy method is using Cakewalks Busses. 

The recordings have busses for drums, vocals guitars and bass etc. 

To make a backing track I mute the Vocals and guitar busses.  I then pan the Bass buss Left and the keyboard and drum buss right and export to a wave file. 

Note: I use mix recall to keep the 2 versions of the song. 

I then take it to a mastering step in Wave Lab where I analyze and make sure each song has the same average RMS level left and right. 

I generally use Wave for live performance but I make a backup to MP3. 

At the gigs I simply use a 1/8" stereo Y  2 x 1/4" into the mixer from my Netbook. A cell phone is sitting there as a back up with the MP3's. 

At some gigs I run the Bass output directly to a Fender bass amp. The drums/ keyboards are only sent to our floor wedges. This can also be applied to any monitoring system. Example run the click track directly to a powered speaker or in ear headphone amp.  

Edited by John Vere

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