The code of the beat.

Faster Tracking With A Mixing Console And Multiple Outputs

5

How My Mackie Mixing Console And Akai MPC 4000 Saves The Day

By Amir Said (Sa’id)


Readers familiar with my setup know that I’m a staunch supporter of a mixing console-based tracking system, as opposed to a computer-based tracking system. Now, don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against software or a computer-based tracking system, I use Pro Tools, so I certainly use a computer (Mac user to the fullest). However, I do NOT like to track just two tracks at a time, nor do I go directly into my Digi 002 interface from the outputs of my gear! Instead, I go through my Mackie (32 channel) mixing console first, then from there I go into the Digi interface.

Usually, when I make beats, I never utilize more than 8 tracks. This works out well, since the Digi 002 only has 8 ins (8 individual Inputs). However, lately, I’m finding that I using 9 to 11 tracks per beat. I think the additional tracks are a result of a new percussive strategy I’ve been developing for a while… So anyway, last night I was making this beat that had 9 tracks. Come time for tracking into Pro Tools, it was no problem. Why you ask? Because of my tracking system and MIDI Beat Clock!

Now, the big debate about whether to use the main outs or individual outs usually comes down to one supposed ‘trick question’: If you use the individual outs, how do you track a beat that uses more than 8 tracks? Typically, that question stumps most. However, my setup actually presents a simple solution. Let me break it down…

Tracking More Than 8 Tracks, Using a Mixing Consoled-Based Tracking System

I route EVERYTHING through my 32 channel Mackie board: that’s my Akai MPC 4000, Akai S950, Roland Fantom S, Numark DM 1200, and my Tascam CD-RW901SL. When it comes time for tracking, I simply route the first 8 tracks of the beat into the Digi 002. Specifically, I go from the direct Outs of the Mackie into the Ins of the Digi 002.

Inside of Pro Tools, I go to:
Setups> MIDI Beat Clock>
Enable> Port I
MIDI Out Port I

Then inside of the MPC 4000 I go to:
MISC.> SYNC
In the SYNC IN, I set the Mode to: MIDI Clock
Then in the SYNC out I set the MIDI In to “On”, and I set the MIDI Out to “A”, (reason being, I’m triggering my S950 with the MPC 4000).
Finally, I set SYNC to “On”.

Having done this, when I’m ready to track into to Pro Tools, I press “3” to record, and Pro Tools automatically triggers my MPC 4000. It plays and records instantly! After I’ve recorded 8 tracks, I simply hit “return” on the computer keyboard, which takes me back to the beginning of the beat. From here, I just arm (setup) new tracks for recording, assign the corresponding input, then press “3” again. The whole beat plays again, only this time, it records just the tracks that I have armed. Thus, theoretically, a 4 minute song with 16 total tracks, only takes me 8-10 minutes to track out completely.


The BeatTips Manual by Sa’id.
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About Author

Amir Said (aka Sa’id) is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of BeatTips. A writer, publisher, and beatmaker/rapper from New York, Said is the author of a number of books, including ‘The BeatTips Manual,’ ‘The Art of Sampling,’ ‘Ghetto Brother,’ and ‘The Truth About New York.’ He is also a recording artist with a number of music projects, including his latest album ‘The Best of Times.’ Follow him on Twitter at: @amirsaid and @BeatTipsManual

  • Hey Amir,
    I really respect what’s being done on this blog. This was a nice article and reminded me of the 90’s setups I saw in NY virtually everywhere. Couple questions, does your Mackie have 4 or 8 busses? I ask that because it would be an interesting way for you to do routing yo your 002. Basically you would use any cables for direct outs from your Mackie to the 002, the buss outs would feed the 002 giving you limitless routing along with combined tracking methods and even sub mixes / resampling (that ones a little tricky).
    Also, next question would be what allowed you to use MIDI beat clock over MTC? In most instances Midi beat clock has caused tons of issues with my MPC 3000 and newer Daws / interfaces since ditching my unitor 8. Especially with tracking, and even more so when using audio from the DAW with MPC seqs. I’ve actually started using MTC with MMC to have everything follow the MPC and leave the DAW as the slave.
    As I said, I respect what’s taking place here, and I feel the pureness of this site. It’s very well put together and well thought out. Looking to contribute and actually throw out some ideas / articles of my own. Being what I’d call a hybrid music maker. Playing instruments, reading music (slowly), knowing theory, loving break beats and samplers, and of course chopping and sampling, although I have quite limited vinyl history and recognition of older classic records and samples.

  • Peace, Larry,
    Thanks for appreciating the content and feel of BeatTips.com, and thanks for respecting how I put my site together. I take your feedback seriously…
    As for your question about my Mackie board, it’s a 8-bus console. The routing chain you speak sounds dope. I think that just might be my next investigative recording project. My close friend, Cus (who also contributes to BeatTips.com and BeatTips2.com), is a mix engineer, and he’s also discussed with me the possibilities of an 8-bus console. But as of yet, I haven’t experimented with it.
    Regarding MTC or MIDI beat clock, I hear you. When my Akai MPC 60II, I wasn’t able to use MIDI beat clock, I had to use SYNC, and add in 4 blank bars at the beginning of a beat, so that Pro Tools would “catch” it right. I suspect that would be the case with the MPC 3000. However, with the MPC 4000, MIDI beat clock works well.
    Hey, man, I welcome the idea of you as a contributor to BeatTips.com. Let’s build, email me at: beattips (at) gmail (dot) com, and we can discuss it further.
    peace,
    Sa’id

  • A-Money

    Ok I’m confused I have a M-Audio project mix i/o, would/ or how would something like a 32 channel mixing board aid me in my music production?

  • A-Money,
    You’re good, don’t be confused. My mixing channel helps me out in several fundamental ways: (1) in the area of customizing my sound (i.e. analog EQ); (2) it allows me to route the multiple hardware pieces in my setup; and (3) it allows me to track my music into my DAW much, much faster. With your M-Audio Project mix, I suspect that you have at least 8 ins, which allows you to track *somewhat* faster. But your Project mix is a control surface, it is not a mixing console, so with it the EQ aspect might leave something to be desired.
    Sa’id

  • even more so when using audio from the DAW with MPC seqs. I’ve actually started using MTC with MMC to have everything follow the MPC and leave the DAW as the slave.