Online Session Drummer | Mark Feldman

Pro Tools Tips

Pro Tools Click Track Sounds for the Online Session Drummer

If you’re new to Pro Tools, this might be helpful.

I recall not having any idea where to go to change my click sound in Pro Tools and it drove me a little bit nuts at first. There was also an issue with which sound to use. Some of the click sounds in Pro Tools are horrible. In the video below, I’ll take you through–in just under four minutes–the sound I hate the most and the one I use most often.

I’ll also show you how to make the change in Pro Tools.

Just check out the video below for the details…

Switch Your Pro Tools Mix to Mono by Twisting Just One Dial

How to Program Drums with Pro Tools

Introduction: Why Would an Online Session Drummer Want to Mix in Mono Anyway?

Why should you care about this little shortcut I’m offering you? Why would you even want to quickly change everything to mono? That’s a good question. As I’ve been learning how to program drums, especially mixing, one interesting concept I stumbled upon is that of mixing in mono. You can find a lot of information online about the theory behind this, but here is a short explanation of why you might consider it.

How to Program Drums with Pro Tools & Switch to Mono

When everything is in mono, every layer of sound and every instrument is occupying the same audio space simultaneously. When you pan things in stereo, you create more space by literally putting instruments in separate physical aural spaces. It’s easier to make your mix sound good when you’re in stereo. Why? Simply because there is more space.

But by forcing yourself to make a mono mix, you have to use EQ and all of the other tools at your disposal to make the mix clearer. Of course you’ll begin by getting your static levels right, but there will definitely be more to it than that. You just don’t have the extra space in your mix that stereo panning naturally gives you. But consider the notion that if you can easily hear every instrument and voice on the track while in mono, your mix should be even more clear and spacious once you return to panning in stereo.

But here’s the kicker and it’s something that is often overlooked. Your listener won’t always hear the stereo elements properly anyway. How frequently are people using headphones or sitting exactly in the center of two balanced speakers? The exact numbers are not known, but you can be certain that a big chunk of listening does not occur in a way that allows the stereo image to be heard properly. Think about it: if you’re sitting in your car, you’re definitely on one side or the other–you’re never in the stereo sweet spot. And listening to the crappy phone speaker definitely doesn’t give you anything but mono. It just makes sense that a lot of listening happens in ways that don’t allow for a real stereo experience.

See the point? While you are learning how to program drums and create a finished drum track, you really HAVE to make your mix sound good in mono anyway. Lots of people are simply going to hear the music in mono. You ignore this at your own risk.

If you are interested in learning more about this, just Google “mixing in mono” and I promise you’ll find plenty to get you up to speed.

This Tutorial Video Will Show You The Stereo to Mono Trick for Mixing

And now; the video. Just watch and you’ll see a great way to easily switch your mix from stereo to mono without unpanning everything and then re-doing it. Check it out:

But for those of you who hate watching videos, I’ll spell out the details below. The reason that I wanted a way of quickly making everything mono was that I’d started mixing and done a bunch of panning already. Then, having already done all that work, I realized that I really should work in mono to make my mix better.

I got frustrated thinking that I was going to have to un-pan everything and then keep track of every panning setting I made and THEN redo all the panning after all of that. That definitely sounded like too much work to me.

So, instead, I did a little research and discovered that there is a free plugin in Pro Tools called “Stereo Width.” It’s made by AIR. If you simply put this plugin on your master mix bus and set the width dial to ZERO, your mix becomes mono instantly. That’s it. Just one little dial and you’re in mono. When you want to go back to your stereo mix you can remove the plugin or just set that same width button back to 100%.

Pretty easy right? I thought so too. You’re welcome!! 😉

Post Script: Why Pro Tools Tips for Beginners?

I want to explain why I even began this little series on Pro Tools. There are plenty of Pro Tools tutorials out there both in blog posts and videos. But what I’ve noticed, just like in a lot of the arts, many of the pros just don’t want to write about or create beginners content. My theory is that it’s too boring for them. Most great guitarists or drummers or audio engineers want to make content about the cool advanced stuff they know. And I think I understand why–it’s more fun for them to make that content. Perhaps there is a bit of ego involved. But the truth is that beginners need love too. Everyone was once a beginner and beginners need help. Thankfully, I’m not bored by it at all. In fact, at my blog about drumming, I’ve made a lot of content for beginners on that topic. You can check out some of that content here: The Drumming Blog

My point is that I’ve scanned the web and noticed that in “Pro Tools land,” there is also a shortage of content for beginners and those that need to learn how to program drums. I’d like to help remedy that, and thus, the “Pro Tools Tips for Beginners” series was born.

By the way, the first entry in my Pro Tools Tips for Beginners series can be found at this link: Beginners Pro Tools Tips 1: Why Does the Cursor Keep Jumping Back to the Beginning?

Thanks for reading!

Beginners Pro Tools Tips 1: Why Does the Cursor Keep Jumping Back to the Beginning?

Skip the frustrations of using Drum Tracks Online

Why Pro Tools Tips for Beginners?
In this series, I’m going to give you beginners some tips that I think might be helpful. It wasn’t that long ago that I was just learning Pro Tools, and I vividly recall many of the things that drove me crazy. I’m hoping that these articles will save you from some of the frustrations of using Pro Tools (and drum tracks online) that I experienced early on.

When I first started using Pro Tools, one of the things that made me nuts was that I’d play back a track or tracks and when I stopped the playback, the cursor would jump back to the beginning of the track automatically. That just didn’t make sense to me. My intuition told me that the cursor should stop and STAY where I left off during the play back.

Drum Tracks Online
The “Blue Arrow” in Pro Tools

Here’s the little thing that I didn’t understand, and it’s really easy to fix.

What is That Little Blue Arrow?
First of all, you have to understand what the little blue arrow (real name: “play start marker”) means and does. Look at the image to the right. See that pink circle? Inside it is the “blue arrow” I’m talking about. Wherever that blue arrow is, that is where the the playback will begin. That is the default setting in Pro Tools, and why the cursor jumps backwards. It’s moving back to the play start marker. And that will always happen unless you use the tip I’ll show you below to make your playback work like a tape machine.

One Handy Shortcut: if you want that blue arrow to move to the beginning of your track, simply hit the “Return” button and it will snap back to the beginning immediately.

The problem I described at the beginning of the article (having the cursor snap back to the beginning of the song) happens when the play start marker is located at the beginning of the track (all the way to the left), but it can be just as frustrating when the cursor snaps back to the blue arrow regardless of where it is located in the timeline.
online drum tracks
As mentioned above, by default, the cursor snaps back to the play start marker. But I often want the cursor and playback to behave like a tape machine would; such that the playback will begin again where I left off when I stopped the last playback. I’m guessing some of you would like to make your playback work that way too. Read on.

Here is the Answer: Pro Tools Tip for Beginners #1
Have a look at the illustration to the left. That button inside the pink circle is the “insertion follows playback button.” In the image, that button is blue which means it is engaged. Simply click that button (you’ll know you’ve clicked it when it’s blue) and you’re good to go; playback will now “act” like a tape machine. Wherever you stop the playback is where it will begin again when you next hit the play button.

Simple, right?

And for those of us who don’t read user manuals, thank god for Google.

By the way, here are two other blog posts you might find interesting:

1) I’ve compiled a list of 31 useful keyboard shortcuts to speed up your workflow in Pro Tools. You can find my article about that here: 31 Pro Tools Shortcuts for Mac: a Cheat Sheet on PDF

2) I made a tutorial on being able to change your mix from stereo to mono with the turn of a single virtual knob. You can watch that video and read about how to do this here: Switch Your Pro Tools Mix to Mono by Twisting Just One Dial

Feel free to ask me any questions about drum tracks online or Pro Tools specifically.

31 Pro Tools Shortcuts for Mac: a Cheat Sheet on PDF

As competent as I’d become at using Pro Tools, there was a point about a year ago when I realized I was working much too slowly. I could certainly get the job done, but I was sure I could speed up my workflow. And after all, going faster would effectively mean that my hourly rate would go up, so I decided to look into speeding things up.

The most obvious way to do this was to learn some keyboard shortcuts. So, I studied, read, watched videos, and asked my producer and engineer friends. And I learned a bunch of them. But I had some trouble remembering them.

So, I created this little cheat sheet and I taped it on my wall right above my audio workspace. And now, I can’t live without this page. At some point I’ll have it memorized, but until then, on the wall it stays, because it’s a time-saver.

I also realized that this was the PDF that I really could have used when I first wanted to learn this stuff. Getting my hands on a “cheat-sheet” like this would have saved me some real time in the learning process. Instead, I had to spend a lot of time watching videos and reading articles. But the truth is that all I really needed was this one page.

You won’t have that problem. Here’s my cheat sheet with “31 Pro Tools Shortcuts for Mac.” I hope it makes your audio engineering life easier and faster.

Download the PDF: 31 pro tools shortcuts for mac

By the way, as I’ve learned more and more about Pro Tools, I began to compile some tips based on things that confused me when I started. The first of these can be found here: Beginners Pro Tools Tips #1