featuring the Cool Tip of the Month: Setting Up a Cue Mix in Pro Tools

Here's a good way to set up a cue (headphone) mix in Digidesign Pro Tools with a multichannel audio interface.

  1. Connect the performers' headphone amplifier to outputs 3 and 4 on your audio interface. (You could have chosen any physical audio output.)
  2. In Pro Tools' Mix window, set up your basic mix while the performers run through the song. This will be the basis for creating the headphone mix.
  3. Select the Tracks/Aux Ins you want to hear in the headphone mix by Shift-clicking on the name of each Track.
  4. Create a stereo Send A on one of the selected tracks while holding down the Option/Alt + Shift keys. Choose stereo bus pair 3 and 4 (the headphone amp) as Send A's destination. That will create the same send on all selected tracks.
  5. Create a stereo Auxiliary Input. Name it CueMix and select bus pair 3 and 4 as its input source.
  6. Assign CueMix's outputs to outputs 3 and 4 on your audio interface. That provides a single volume control for the headphone mix and allows you to apply compression, reverb, and so on without affecting the main mix.
  7. Under the Display menu, in Sends View Shows, select Send A. Miniature controls for Send A will appear in each track.
  8. Hold down the Option/Alt key and click on the P button in any Send to switch all tracks to prefader. (Their level, pan, and mute status will be unaffected by the main mix.)
  9. If you're using Pro Tools LE or Pro Tools Free, you must set each send's level manually. With Pro Tools TDM or HD, you can copy the main volume and pan of any track to its sends. To do that, select all tracks by holding down the Option/Alt key and clicking on a track name. In the Edit menu, select Copy to Send. In the dialog, copy the Current Values of volume and pan to the destination Send A; click on OK.

For a streaming movie of this tip from the CoolSchoolOnline library, visit Also, if you dare, take the quiz to review what you've learned!
— Steve Albanese

Multitimbral Absynth with DP

If you're a MOTU Digital Performer user who also has Native Instruments' Absynth, you've probably noticed that Absynth isn't multitimbral. If you use a VST shell such as AudioEase VST Wrapper or TC Works FXMachine, however, you can open as many instances of the Absynth VST plug-in as your computer can handle.

To use Absynth VST in VST Wrapper, begin by adding a new stereo audio track to Digital Performer's Sequence Editor window. Next, insert Absynth VST into that track in the Mixer window. In the Track List, add a new MIDI track and select an Absynth VST MIDI channel as the output. Repeat this procedure for each different Absynth timbre you desire. Each audio channel will record a separate instance of Absynth VST, and you can play each instance on its own MIDI channel.
— Geary Yelton

Smooth Movies

If you are composing soundtracks and you're working with a QuickTime movie synchronized to your digital audio sequencer, you may find that the computer has a difficult time playing 30 frames per second and playing multiple sequencer tracks simultaneously. If your computer can't provide the necessary throughput, QuickTime will drop frames in order to maintain synchronization.

However, there are a number of steps that you can take in order to improve the performance of QuickTime and smooth out playback:

  1. Keep the movie window small.
  2. Choose one of the standard movie sizes (double, full, or half).
  3. Close unnecessary windows and turn off autoscroll, moving wipers, level meters, and other onscreen activity.
  4. Play the movie from a fast hard drive, not from a CD-ROM drive.
  5. Reduce the number of audio tracks during playback.
    — David Rubin

Convolving WAV Files in Acoustic Mirror

Sonic Foundry's Acoustic Mirror convolution plug-in, now included with Sound Forge 5.0, is normally used to apply the ambient characteristics of a space to a recording that was made somewhere else. In other words, you can give a sound the quality of having been recorded in a stairwell when, in fact, it was recorded in a dry room.

What many users don't know, however, is that it is possible to use Acoustic Mirror to convolve any two WAV files — for example, a sample of a rainstorm with a cello sample. As long as the two sounds you choose have some overlapping region in their spectra, you can easily create “clones” or morphing effects by selecting a WAV file as the impulse response and applying it to the file that is currently open in Sound Forge. Here's a combination to try: mix vocal samples and bird sounds or other animal noises with power chords. You're sure to happen upon some amazing results before too long.
— Dennis Miller