Adventures In Audio

Don't let a hidden track ruin your mix

by David Mellor
FREE EBOOK DOWNLOAD ► LEARN AUDIO ONLINE ►

I'm using Pro Tools to illustrate this but the concept applies to any DAW that allows you to hide tracks from the screen while still hearing the audio they contain.

The reason I bring this up is because we hear a wide range of problems in students' work at Audio Masterclass, and we're here to help.

The problem is to do with hidden tracks. But firstly, why hide a track?

Why hide tracks?

Mixing can be complicated. In the classic age of analog recording a well-specified studio would have a 24-track recorder.

Audio Masterclass Video Courses

Learn FAST With Audio Masterclass Video Courses

With more than 900 courses on all topics audio, including almost every DAW on the market, these courses are your fast track to audio mastery.
Get a library pass for all 900+ courses for just $25.

24 tracks seems amateur now and it is not uncommon to see productions with 40, 50, maybe up to 100 tracks or even more.

There's a limit to how many tracks you can have up on screen and still see enough detail to make sense of them. In 2028 perhaps we'll have whole-wall monitoring, but still there will be limits to human visual acuity.

So it's a common way of working to hide tracks that you're not actively working on, simply to concentrate on the tracks you do want to see.

But here's the problem...

Hidden and inactive tracks

In the track list in the upper left of the image, the track 01 ElecGtr1 Chorus 1 is inactive, so it doesn't contribute to the mix. That is indicated by the italic text. It is also hidden.

But the track 01 Organ Chorus 1 is hidden, as shown by the light gray dot in the column to the left. But it is active, as shown by the normal text.

The Audio Masterclass Music Production and Sound Engineering Course

LEARN AUDIO ONLINE

Ready to take your recording to the next level? Full online course leading to your Audio Masterclass certificate on successful completion.

As you can see, the visual difference is small. And this is with only a few tracks. Imagine if you have 50 tracks - you really have to focus in and make sure that you can see all of the tracks you are mixing.

Of course, other DAWs may make it more obvious when a track is hidden yet active, but it is still something to watch out for.

Summary

This is a simple problem, but it can catch out anyone whose attention slips for a moment. And if your hidden track makes it all the way to your final mix and master - well if it sounds good then you're OK. But you got there partly by chance, not 100% intention.

And when you come back in six months' time for the club remix, you'll be scratching your head for a while wondering where the hidden track's audio is coming from.

Sunday August 12, 2018

Like, follow, and comment on this article at Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, Instagram or the social network of your choice.

David Mellor

David Mellor

David Mellor is CEO and Course Director of Audio Masterclass. David has designed courses in audio education and training since 1986 and is the publisher and principal writer of Adventures In Audio.

More from Adventures In Audio...

An interesting microphone setup for violinist Nigel Kennedy

Are you compressing too much? Here's how to tell...

If setting the gain correctly is so important, why don't mic preamplifiers have meters?

The Internet goes analogue!

How to choose an audio interface

Audio left-right test. Does it matter?

Electric guitar - compress before the amp, or after?

What is comb filtering? What does it sound like?

NEW: Audio crossfades come to Final Cut Pro X 10.4.9!

What is the difference between EQ and filters? *With Audio*

What difference will a preamp make to your recording?

Watch our video on linear phase filters and frequency response with the FabFilter Pro Q 2

Read our post on linear phase filters and frequency response with the Fabfilter Pro Q 2

Harmonic distortion with the Soundtoys Decapitator

What's the best height for studio monitors? Answer - Not too low!

What is the Red Book standard? Do I need to use it? Why?

Will floating point change the way we record?

Mixing: What is the 'Pedalboard Exception'?

The difference between mic level and line level

The problem with parallel compression that you didn't know you had. What it sounds like and how to fix it.

Compressing a snare drum to even out the level

What does parallel compression on vocals sound like?

How to automate tracks that have parallel compression

Why mono is better than stereo for recording vocals and dialogue

#