Click Track
Score. It's much easier to use software to generate a sheet music version of a song if the song is recorded using a click.
  • Manually fix timing errors. You have a grid to compare notes against so it's easy to spot and fix timing errors. This image shows the audio for quarter notes being tapped on a table as it would appear when recorded against a click. Clicks on a grid
    The numbers at the top are the measure numbers (measure 3 is selected). The beats are shown as small white ticks on the black bar between 3 and 4. Note that all of the notes are slightly to the right of the grid making them late. You simply select the offending note (region) and slide it.
  • There are also some disadvantages:

    • Resulting recording can sound mechanical. Subtle increases and decreases in tempo can add life to a recording. Unless tempo changes are programmed into the software, the entire tune will be at the exact same tempo which can be boring to the listener.
    • You might pick the wrong tempo. If you are playing without a click and the tempo is wrong, the band will usually gravitate to the correct tempo. If you record against a click, the tempo of the song is nailed down. Even when using a click, it can be helpful to record a bit of the tune without a click to get the right feel then use the recording software to determine what the tempo is: match the click up after the fact. You can then delete the test recording and start real recording at the correct tempo.
    • The click in the headphones can bleed into mics. Though the click is often masked by the drums or other instrument, taking it out after the fact can be a pain in the ass. Check for click bleeding before beginning formal recording.

    Notes on sliding tracks

    • Drum tracks bleed significantly. Always select and slide all of the drum tracks together. Otherwise you end up hearing the bad sound on the other tracks.
    • Turn off :snap to grid". When selecting the region to slide, you normally would select in between sounds to avoid introducing clicks and pops into your recording. Most current software does a good job at fixing this but if you make a selection in the middle of a sound, the software will introduce distortion in the form of ramping the audio to eliminate pops and clicks. If it happens in the middle of a snare hit, it will probably ruin the sound. You'll also want Snap To Grid off when sliding the section to get it land where you want it.
    • Don't always slide to exactly on the beat. A lot of instruments play behind or ahead of the beat. It's best to move notes to match notes that sound right.

    Recording Without a Click

    Some musical styles naturally don't work well with a click (jazz, etc.. ) while others such as techno and hip hop do. Many styles such as pop and rock have to be judged on a song by song basis.

    Advantages:

    • More relaxed sounding. Slower tunes sound more natural when recorded without a click.
    • Dynamic buildup. Increases in tempo as a song progresses can dramatically increase the excitement level.
    • The tempo adjusts naturally. Sometimes a preprogrammed tempo can be wrong and won't get picked up as a problem until further down the line. When recording with no click, the band has a much better chance of getting in the pocket/groove of a song.
    • Less setup. It's usually not that difficult to set up a click but it does mean that all the players need to have headphones and a useable mix with the click loud which can complicate things.
    • No click in the headphones to bleed into the mics.

    Disadvantages:

    • Fixing timing problems is more difficult. When you record with a click, you have beat markers that make it easy to spot late or early notes. With no click, you pretty much have to handle it by ear.
    • No easy scoring. Using the recording software to create a printed score of MIDI data is fairly easy but relies on a timing reference which you don't have without a click. There are ways around it but it's generally a lot easier to generate a score when the music is performed along with a click.

    Background image by Pauline Moss. at http://paulinemoss.deviantart.com/art/Stars-307119758