A Pro Tools Tutorial for Recording Your First Audio Track

howtobecomeamusicproducerPro Tools is one of the most popular and intuitive digital audio workstations available for audio production, including recording, mixing, and editing audio. If you’re unfamiliar with how to use Pro Tools, this course will walk you through the process of recording, mixing, and editing audio in Pro Tools 10. Pro Tools is the choice of many professional recording engineers and even musicians operating their own home recording studios. Though many Pro Tools users have been primarily Mac users because of Apple’s superb ability to handle and manipulate audio, the software is available for Windows users as well.

Pro Tools has been used by many industry professionals for music productions and film scoring. Toying around with the capabilities of Pro Tools can be a lot of fun if you’re a musician who enjoys writing and performing your own music. With Pro Tools and any external hardware interface attached to your computer, the ability to create your own audio productions is at your fingertips. The following is a basic Pro Tools tutorial that help you to set up a session and make your first recording in Pro Tools.

Create a New Session and Select Your Session Parameters

After you’ve installed the Pro Tools software on your computer and attached an audio interface that will allow you to connect an audio source to your computer for recording, it’s time to open up Pro Tools and create your first session. To create a new session, you’ll need to go to the File drop-down menu and select New Session. This will open up a New Session dialog box where you will select your session parameters, including audio file type, sample rate, I/O settings, and session bit depth.

For the audio file type that Pro Tools will store your session files to, you can select WAV or AIFF files. WAV is the default format for all platforms, so it’s generally the best way to go.

Depending on the audio interface you use, you can select a sample rate up to 192 kHz. You want to choose a sample rate that will work best for your audio project. The industry standard sample rate for audio CDs is 44.1 kHz, and this sample rate often works well for most home studio recordings. Music projects typically use lower sample rates while higher sample rates are used for more demanding projects, such as television audio. The higher the sample rate, the more disk space will be used by your session.

You can select preset I/O settings in Pro Tools for Stereo Mix or different surround sound settings. The Stereo Mix is generally the best setting for recorded music production.

The Bit Depth is the audio resolution that you will be working with during your session, and you can select 16-bit, 24-bit, or 32-bit. The higher the bit depth, the larger the files you save from your session will be. 16-bit is usually adequate for basic recordings. The higher bit depths provide more response and dynamic range. Use 24- or 32-bit for projects that include moments of quiet instrumentation.

Name Your Session and Select a Storage Location

After you’ve selected your session parameters, Pro Tools will prompt you to name your session and select a location to save the files associated with your session. Be sure to name your session something you’ll easily remember and is related to what you’ll be recording.

Create a New Track

For the purposes of this basic Pro Tools tutorial, you only need to create one audio track. To create a new track, select the Track drop-down menu and click on New. This will open the New Tracks dialog box. You’ll be prompted to select the number of tracks you wish to create, the track format, type, and timebase. You can select mono, stereo, or multi-channel track formats. For now, select a mono track format. You have several track type options, such as audio, MIDI, and video tracks. Audio track is what you’ll want to choose for this tutorial. A track can be set to a sample-based or tick-based timebase. Audio tracks are usually sample-based, while MIDI tracks are usually tick-based. The last thing you’ll do with your newly created track before moving on to recording your first audio is to give it a track name. Make sure to give it a name for what it is you’re recording. For example, if you’re recording vocals, name the track “vocals.”

Record Your First Track

Make sure your new track’s channel is set to correspond with Channel 1 on your hardware interface. For your first track, you can record anything you want. Do you love to sing? Record yourself singing a song a cappella. Maybe you love to play guitar. If that’s the case, you can plug your guitar straight into your interface, or you can use a microphone to capture the sound of your guitar as you’re playing. Guitars are a fun instrument to record, and this course will give you the basics of playing guitar for beginners.

Whatever you decide to record, you can prepare your track for recording by clicking on the R, which sets the track to record-enabled. You can then press the spacebar on your computer keyboard to begin recording as you sing or play your instrument. When you’re finished, hit the spacebar again to stop recording.

Listen to Your First Track

Congratulations. You’ve recorded your first track. Take your track off of record-enabled mode, and use the transport window to go to the beginning of your recording and listen to what you’ve created. It might not sound like the best thing you’ve ever heard. In fact, it might not even sound remotely good, but remember that this is your first time, and you have much more to learn, such as setting the input gain before recording a track. This Pro Tools tutorial focused on recording a single audio track, but there is also multi-track recording capability in Pro Tools. If you’re interested in learning more about advanced multi-track recording, this course covers multi-track production for acoustic guitar and vocals.

Pro Tools offers unlimited opportunity to create a variety of interesting audio arrangements. Whether you’re playing around an acoustic guitar and your own vocals or you’re creating a MIDI film score for your latest film project, Pro Tools is just the tool to make your audio production ideas into a reality. If you want to take your Pro Tools skills to the next level, this course will help you to get comfortable using Pro Tools for all of your audio production needs.