DP-24/32 Using Track Sheets for Recording Projects

Discussion in '2488 and DP-24/32 Digital Portastudios' started by Mark Richards, Feb 12, 2018.

  1. Mark Richards

    Mark Richards Member

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    Back in my studio days working with analog tape, I made sure that before a session started, certain things were always done to make the session more efficient.

    Experienced recording engineers might take these for granted.

    For everyone else, I thought it might be helpful to pass a few of them along that might apply to using the DP-24/32 for recording projects.

    A track sheet was kept for each song as a planning document and permanent record of the session.
    • Track assignments for instruments and vocals were planned in advance and recorded in the track sheet.
    • The recording sequence for base tracks and overdubs were planned in advance and recorded in the track sheet.
    • The track sheet also recorded the number of takes and the start point on the tape of each take.
    • The names of the artists performing on the song, the producer, and the engineer were also recorded on the track sheet, along with the type of tape used, the tape speed, and the specific multi-track tape machine.
    A separate mixdown track sheet was used for the "best take" to make a permanent record of fader levels, effects and settings, and other mixdown decisions. Likewise, if we mastered the mixdown tape in-house.

    At the start of each song (both the multi-track master tape and the 1/2 track stereo master tape), we recorded a 1kHz calibration tone at 0VU, and an "A/440" tone. This facilitated playback calibration of the tape when played on a machine other than the one used to create the original recording.

    Why bring these things up in a DP-24/32 digital world? I thought there might be several parallels:
    1. While using track sheets to plan out your projects and mixdowns may seem like an impediment to creativity, it forces you to think things all the way through in advance, and thus avoid the frustration that can come with doing things on-the-fly.
    2. Once you have a permanent record of the project, you can use it as a reference for future projects; and you can use it to recreate your mix accurately if the need arises.
    3. If you're collaborating on the project and passing the multitrack files around, it helps assure everyone involved has a clear understanding of the project.
    4. Placing a tuning tone at the start helps assure the musicians can be in tune with the initial recording, particularly if the multi-tracking will occur at different times, locations, or using different machines.
    5. Placing a unity gain/0dB level tone at the start provides a standard to help assure all instruments and vocal levels will be consistent, particularly if the multi-tracking will occur at different times, locations, or using different machines.
    Hope some of you find some of this helpful as you go forward with your projects.
  2. David Porter

    David Porter Active Member

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    Good stuff Mark. Thanks for sharing.:ugeek:
  3. Matt B

    Matt B Member

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    I have developed a recording sheet that, though not quite as detailed, provides most of the information. It is nice to be able to go to a folder and see which guitar, which mic, etc was used to create a sound.

    This kind of organization has made it easier for me to switch between artist and technician a hundred times in a session.

    I cut file folders up and make scribble strips, which I attach below the faders with small self-stick clips. I can write what the track is and other notes for easy reference. I start with black ink, and amend with green and then red to keep up with moved tracks, bounces, externally-processed tracks. It makes changing from song to song very easy.

    Speaking for myself, there is nothing "art" about floundering, false starts, tangents, and dead ends. The organization keeps me focused and progressing toward tangible goals.
  4. Phil Tipping

    Phil Tipping Well-Known Member

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    Good advice Mark & Matt, it's so tempting to jump in without planning or preparation. I found traditional track sheets started getting messy when I discovered the luxury of virtual tracks, as used on my first digital recorder (Fostex D108). It had 8 'live' tracks and 16 virtuals so exchanging tracks meant crossing out the contents and re-writing them in the correct 'cell'; this simple mod helped a lot.

    One bit of prep which works with me is when making simple recordings of a couple of musicians playing to a backing track. Before we meet up, I'll create the song first and import the backing to track 31/32, then assign the musician's inputs to multiple sets of tracks, e.g. if vocal is on A and guitar is on B, assign A to track 1, 3, 5, 7, etc, and B to track 2, 4, 6, 8 etc. - this is where the dp32 is handy as the stereo tracks can be switched to mono. Set up any send levels as reqd, then make a copy of this whole 'template' song onto a backup sd-card so you can quickly swap over if things go pear-shaped - never happened yet though! At the session, when you need to do a re-take, just un-arm the first pair of tracks and arm the next 2. The input trims and other settings for inputs A & B only need adjusting once as they never change; it's just the tracks. Keep working along the tracks until everyone's had enough, then it's easy to review the pairs during playback by turning up/down the relevant track faders.
    David Porter, Mark Richards and Dunny like this.
  5. Dunny

    Dunny Member

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    Some great advice here from seasoned studio engineers , makes me happy to have purchased the Tascam knowing that you lads have faith in the software and hardware together, i have used Boss recorders for a long time but wanted something a bit more up to date with proper "tactile" buttons, over the last month or so i have not been disappointed with the support and the first class knowledge you lads have collected and shared i might add .

    Cheers
  6. Mark Richards

    Mark Richards Member

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    Matt and Phil added some good ideas, so I've changed the thread title to "Using Tracksheets for Recording Projects".

    Perhaps this will encourage more members to post how they make use of track sheets, or techniques to identify what the faders are controlling.

    If you click on my avatar picture you'll see I've done something similar to Matt. I've used laminated white paper and wet erase markers to quickly see how the board is set up. By cutting the laminate wider than the paper, the strip is self sticking. It also comes up easily with no residue left behind.
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2018
    Matt B likes this.