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Master The Transport Panel in Cubase: Part 3

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In the previous two parts of this series (Part 1, Part 2), I have talked about setting up your transport panel, activating it, and a few important items in the panel that will improve your workflow, such as the the Arranger track controls, the virtual keyboard and the Jog/Scrub wheel. In this part, I will talk about Pre-Roll and Post-Roll, Punch-In and Punch-Out and Activity Meters.

Pre-Roll and Post-Roll

Even though the item in the image above is called as Locator, it contains one of the most used function which is mostly used during recording sessions. It allows you to control the playback positions of the cursor while recording or when playing back the audio.

The Pre-Roll setting allows you to roll back a few measures before playback. This means that once you set the value for Pre-Roll, the playback will start exactly after the value has been deducted from the playback. For example, if you set the cursor on the tenth bar and the Pre-Roll value is set at three bars, the playback will start from the seventh bar of the song.

This process helps you to save time when doing overdubs or when working with less experienced singers who tend to make small errors in the recording phase. This is also helpful while using the Punch-In on the Transport panel.

The Post-Roll is also similar to the Pre-Roll, except that it is used to play a few bars after automatic punch out before stopping. You will have to remember that this function is useful only if you are using Punch-Out option in the Transport panel and with the Stop After Automatic Punch Out option is activated.

You can set the required amount for the Post-Roll and Pre-Roll by clicking on the field to the left of the activation buttons and typing in a value or dragging the values up or down.

Punch-In and Punch-Out

Punch-In and Punch-Out options are available in the Locator item which has the Pre-Roll and Post-Roll. They are very useful during the recording phase. They can help you to automate the recording process and help you keep a calm mind when recording. They can also help you to set the places where the recording should start and where the recording should stop. That way you don’t have to worry about when to start and stop recording or about keeping the cursor on the right place to start recording.

Punch-In can be activated by pressing the Punch-In option available in the Transport panel. But before you can start recording using the Punch-In method, you will have to set the position of the Left locator. You can do this by moving the Left locator position value up or down. To increase the value, move it up, to decrease the value, move it down. You have the option to manually select the position and then clicking on the L with the Alt key pressed down.

You can check the position of the locators by clicking on the L or R buttons, and the cursor will automatically point to the location of the locators.

Punch-Out is also another function that can be used to reduce the time spent on recording a performance rather than worrying about the precise timing when the recording should be stopped. It can be found just below the R locator. This helps you to stop the recording as soon as the right locator is reached. This will help you to prevent overwriting of takes and will help you in the editing process as well. The shortcut key for Punch-In is I and for Punch-Out it is O.

Many engineers prefer to use the Punch-In option when recording certain parts that need to be corrected. Instead of pressing the record button at that moment, the engineer can set the time that the recording should start, and start the playback before the recording area. Once the playback reaches the area for recording, it automatically starts recording. If you have set the Punch-Out to the right locator, the recording will stop as soon as it reaches the right locator, thus saving precious time for both you and your clients.

Output Level Control

The output level control helps you to control the overall output of the audio being played. It controls the level of the output channel which contains all the channels that are being sent to the output channel. You can adjust the value of this by moving the fader up for increasing the sound, and by moving it down for reducing the sound.

Activity Meters

Whenever you record, you should always have at least one eye on the Audio Activity meter. This meter is one of the most important factor which helps you make better recordings. The levels of the audio going into your DAW determines the effects that it plays on the song. If the input is going too hot, then there will be the “louder is better” illusion. It might sound good, but actually have lower quality than you'd expect.

The dreaded clip meters are also found in this area. Both the Input Clipping and Output Clipping indicators help you to know if the audio coming in or going out is clipping or not. Once the audio level goes beyond the limit, the clipping indicator will turn red. You can turn it back to normal by clicking on it. The meters also show the highest levels that the audio has reached, which can give you an idea of how loud your audio is. You can reset this by clicking on it.

Audio that clips might sound good in some genres of music, but heavy clipping can disturb the listener, sounding bad and distorted. However slight clipping may not really affect the quality of the audio and is generally acceptable.

The Audio Output meter and Output Level controller respond to the Control Room channel if it is activated. Otherwise they refer to the Main Mix Output Channel that is specified in the VST Connections window.

The MIDI Activity Level shows the MIDI In and MIDI Out that is being processed by the DAW. You can view the meters go up and down by sending some MIDI data through your MIDI controller to your DAW.

Conclusion

In this tutorial you have learnt about two very important aspects of recording:

  1. The Punch-In Punch-Out controls are really helpful when doing overdubs and retakes. 
  2. The Activity Meters help you to make the correct decision while choosing the level of the audio that goes in and comes out of your recording session. 

Use these functions in the next recording session and you will be amazed how your workflow improves!