Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Recording Audio

So you have your recording interface, a mic or instrument, Cakewalk downloaded, and you want to record some audio? Let's do it!

Test the Audio Output

  1. In the Control Panel or Settings in Windows, select "Sound" or "Manage Audio Devices".  Search for one of these in the Windows search bar if you're not sure where to find it.
  2. On the "Playback" tab, be sure your audio interface is enabled and selected as default.  It should have a green check next to it.
  3. Next, make sure your audio interface is default on the "Recording" tab.  My Focusrite 18i8 is connected to my desktop, and I'm currently on my laptop, so imagine "Microphone" is your audio interface.
  4. .
  5. If either is not enabled or checked, right click the entry and enable/ set it to default.
  6. Right-click the playback audio interface again and click "Test".  You should hear sound.  
  7. If not, be sure the volume is up and that you have the latest drivers for your device.  If that fails, check your manual and see if your audio interface has a free support line or email.

Audio Options

  1. Open Cakewalk by BandLab and start a new "Basic" project. (Either on the startup screen or File>New). 

    Or the Cakewalk Start Screen

  2. Edit > Preferences > Devices
  3. Choose your audio interface under "Input Drivers".  
  4. Under "Output Drivers" choose the interface connected to your speakers or headphones.

Add an Audio Track

  1. If you opened a "Basic" project, you'll already have an audio track and can move on to the next session.
  2. If not, right-click the track row header column and select "Add Audio Track"

Set the Audio Track to Record

  1. Click the red "Record" button on the Cakewalk ribbon.
  2. On your Audio track, click the red record button.  You'll only want to click on the track(s) you want to record.  Be careful to disable this when you want to move on to a new track, lest you overwrite other tracks.
  3. Click the "I" drop-down and select your audio interface as the input to your audio track.
  4. The "O" (Output) drop-down should be set to "Master".
  5. Your "Master" bus on the left should be set to your audio interface's Output Driver.  Click the drop-down to change it.  The "Master" bus will also be your main volume control.
What is a bus?  A bus is an audio channel where you can control the result of several tracks at once.  For example, lets say you have three different guitar tracks and you need to raise the volume of all three guitars and add some reverb.  You could raise the volume and add reverb on all three tracks, or you could send all three tracks to a "Guitar" bus.  Then you would raise the volume and add the reverb once to the Guitar bus.

Input Echo

Click this button if you want to hear what you're recording as you record.  This can be helpful sometimes, or give you the preview of some real-time effects you have on a track.  However, if your audio interface has some latency (delay), it will sound like you're echoing and can throw you off, so use with caution.


As you might imagine, muting the track will stop it from playing back.  I sometimes mute the track if I'm going to record several takes in one fell swoop on the same track, that way I don't hear the other takes while I'm recording the next one.  I'll post a step-by-step on how to do this later

Maintain Tempo with a Metronone

Eventually you may have some type of percussion to maintain tempo while you record.  Until then, we can set a metronome within Cakewalk.
  1. Find the tempo field on the Cakewalk ribbon.  It probably reads 120 by default.
  2. Think of a tempo that suits what you want to record.  Remember that tempo equals beats per minute.  
  3. Move all the way back to the beginning of the song.  You can set different tempos throughout the song later, but for now we want the same tempo throughout.
  4. Click the 120 and change it to the beats per minute you want.  Don't worry, you can change it later.
  5. Enable the "Metronome on Record" and "Metronome on Playback" buttons if they're not already enabled.  If you don't want the metronome to sound on playback or record, you can disable these later.
  6. Click the play button and listen to the metronone.
  7. Doesn't sound quite how you'd like?  Feel free to peruse the advanced metronome options.

Adjust Volume on Your Instrument and Interface

Before we record, be aware of all the places you need to have the volume turned up.  Start as low as possible, and turn it up after you're sure it's working.  
  • The volume knob on your instrument.
  • The volume on your audio interface.
  • The volume in your audio interface drivers and the playback volume in Windows (Control Panel)
  • The volume on the track in Cakewalk/
  • Is your audio track in Cakewalk muted?

Rock and Roll!

Your track is set to record and everything is ready to go, so click the record button and let's hear what you got!

Extra Credit: Loop and Record

Sometimes you're not sure how to sing a part and just want to record a few takes without fiddling with your computer in between each.
  1. Mute the track you're recording.  You don't want to hear previous takes while recording.
  2. Activate looping
  3. Specify which measure/bar you want to start and stop recording.
  4. Otherwise, follow the same recording instructions above.
  5. To hear each take individually, you can move them to separate tracks or mute some of the clips to only hear the ones you need.

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