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Using Playlists to Organise a Multitrack Session

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Playlists can be an extremely useful tool when you need to record multiple takes on track. It helps you to manage your tracks and keep your session organised. Being in a recording session where you’re tracking multiple microphones at the same time is a daily situation. You can make your session run smoother by learning how you can use playlists to minimise the time and work needed between takes.

Step 1: Setting Up Your Session

Good habits starts right at the beginning, setting up the session in the following manner will help pave the way for the use of playlists. You should append ‘.01’ to the name of all your tracks so ‘Guitar’ will become ‘Guitar.01’. This is to facilitate the way Pro Tools names your new playlists. If you leave your track name as ‘Guitar’, Pro Tools will name your next playlist as ‘Guitar.01’. However, if you name your track as ‘Guitar.01’, Pro Tools will name your next playlist as ‘Guitar.02’. Naming your tracks properly will help you refer to your takes better in the editing stage, ‘Guitar.01’ can be easily referred as Take 1 and so forth.

Step 2: Create Mix/Edit Groups

Create groups for the tracks that you will be recording together. For example, all the drum mics could be grouped under ‘Drums’, and the guitars under ‘Guitars’. With this done, you only need to make sure the group is active when you create a new playlist and it will create a new playlist for all the tracks in the active group. This will save you a lot of time when you are creating new playlists. While you’re putting everything in groups, go ahead and give each group a colour so you can identify them better.

Step 3: Create a New Playlist After Each Take

After recording your first take, you will need to create a new playlist for the next take. Make sure the group that you are recording is active, for example the ‘Drums’ group, by selecting it in the groups window or using the shortcut key that you had assigned to the group. If you are recording all the tracks, you can just use the default ‘ALL’ tracks group. Click on the drop down arrow to the right of the track name and select “New... ” to create a new playlist. This will create an empty playlist with ‘.02’ appended at the end and you’re all ready for your next take. All your individual track settings such as track inputs apply to all the playlists that are nested in the same track so you can start recording immediately. Keep repeating this process for any further takes that you may need to record.

Step 4: Choose the Tracks or Comp a Final Track

Once you are ready to edit the tracks, reveal all the playlists by changing the track view to playlists mode and you will see all your takes for that track. You can audition the takes by soloing the playlist. Comp your final track by creating a new playlist and selecting a portion of the track from a playlist and use ‘Control+Option/Alt+V’ to copy it to the main playlist. You can also use the “Duplicate...” function to duplicate the playlist which you feel needs the least edits and work from there.

More Tips

If you know that you will be recording more than one instrument simultaneously; for example the bass, rhythm guitar, and drums together. Go ahead and create a group which contains all of them instead of creating them as separate groups. In that case, you’ll only need to select ‘new playlist’ once and all the respective tracks will be created.

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