RECORDING: Use templates ALWAYS.
If I didn’t make templates for my recording software, I would be wasting so much time, setting up the tracks before the recording even starts.
What’s a template?
It’s a track setup in your preferred recording program/DAW, that’s ready to go when you are. Some people (UK/Europe) pronounce this word “tem-plate” (rhymes with “wait”). Americans usually say “tem-plit”. There’s no wrong or right way to say it. Just get in the habit of using them.
How do I make one?
Well, that depends on your recording software! Most of the time, your DAW allows you to save a song project as a song, or as a template. A template file can be utilized when you start a new project. It will usually give you the option, upon starting a new project, to use a blank slate, or a template.
Creating a Project Template in Reaper
Here’s the typical way I create a template, in Reaper:
1. I use the keyboard shortcut for “New Track” (CTRL+T) 9 times. The first 8 tracks will be 2 MIDI tracks, and 6 audio tracks. The final track will be a “reverb bus.”
2. I highlight all the tracks I created and right-click, select “Track Color”, and “Set Tracks To Random Colors” (this is essential, with Reaper… because otherwise, the tracks all have the same “silvery” color.)
3. While all tracks are highlighted, I right-click, select “Track Icon” and “Set Track Icon” (I pick a random icon, as I will change it later.)
4. I click the “FX” button on track 9, and insert “Reaverbate”, a stock Reaper reverb which sounds quite good. I set the dry mix to 0% (leaving wet at 100%), and set the decay/time way up to about 90.
5. I click the “I/O” button on track 9, and go to the “Receives” section, and click “Add receives from all tracks.”
5a. I click the “input monitoring” button and set it to on (turns into green arrow).
5b. I arm the track for recording, then right-click the record button and set it to “record: Disable– input monitoring only.”
My template is almost ready to be saved.
6. I name the first two tracks MIDI 1 and MIDI 2. I set the input of these tracks to “Input MIDI, all MIDI inputs, all MIDI channels”. I click the input monitoring button and set it to on (green arrow). I right-click the record buttons and set them to “automatically record arm when track selected.”
6a. I highlight all the other tracks (audio) except the ReverbBus track, and right-click the record buttons and choose “automatically record arm when track selected.”
7. I name tracks 3-8 as Guitar 1, Guitar 2, Bass, Vox 1, Vox 2, and Drums/Loop…. and “Reverb Bus” for track 9. I then set the icons accordingly.
8. I go up to “File”, “Project Templates”…. “Save Project as Template”…. and I name it “Default” – it saves to the ProjectTemplates folder in Reaper, so it’s always easy to find.
9. I go to “Preferences”, and the “Project” section, and up at the top, I set Reaper to start any new project with my “Default” template. Always ready to record when I click “new.”
You can create any amount of templates you want, for any type of recording situation. I have my “default”, which works great for singer/songwriter-type stuff. Then I have “hip-hop”, which gives me a shorter number of tracks, and 4 instances of the POISE VST (I’ve written about it here at my blog), acting as banks 1, 2, 3, 4 (1 is drums, 2-4 are MPC-style “chops”). Then I have a few other templates where I have my Toontrack Superior Drummer 2.0 set up so I can play it with my electronic kit… and record guitars and whatnot. There’s another template where I have my amp modeling software ready to go, in addition to the drum software….. there’s just no need to “create” the track setup…. anything I need, I click the mouse a couple times and it’s right there.
Templates are essential. Use them! I don’t know what recording software you use, but again, for me… Reaper is my preferred software. I think it is very easy to use once you get the hang of the basics, and if you use Project Templates, you’ll wonder how you ever got along this long without Reaper…. but if Reaper’s not your thing…. look into how to make Project Templates for your favorite recording software. There are a lot of tutorials on YouTube… I’ve found videos on how to make templates with Reaper, Cubase, FL Studio, Reason, Cakewalk Sonar X1/X2, StudioOne, etc.
Here’s what Reaper looks like, the first time you use it (a bit intimidating, right?)
Here’s what my Reaper looks like, every time I start the program, or every time I click “New Project”:
Looks a lot more inviting/easy/time-saving, right? Of course. That’s why templates are awesome.
Hope this helps!