Just like in the Recording Phase, taking time to get things right at setup will greatly benefit your workflow and final product.
Here are some considerations when setting up your next DAW session:

  • Naming & Location of Files
  • Sample Rate & Bit Depth
  • File Type
  • Hardware Settings & Buffer Size

It can be tempting to just dive in, hit the record button and get that audio captured so you can get your teeth into post-production.

As we saw with the recording, time spent getting things right at the start is hugely important and will invariably save you time later on.

In this post I will go into further detail about the project checklist as well as giving some tips on setting up a simple template in Pro Tools.

File Naming & Location

As simple and boring as it seems, naming your files correctly is a really important step.

You might think that you will remember 'audio 3' and 'song 2' because its just a quick project but i guarantee that before long you will be digging through files to try and recover that perfect solo buried in similar file names.

The two main file names and locations you want to worry about are the Project Setup and the Tracks.

Whatever logic works for you is fine but for example you might save your projects under type (Jam, Songwriting, Albums, EP's etc) followed by Artist name and finally the Song name.


When naming your tracks, do it in such a way that you will be able to look for that instrument with ease later on (Telecaster, Lead, Shaker etc)

Sample Rate & Bit Depth

A good balance between file size and quality is 24 Bit & 48KHz. 

The arguments regarding these two aspects of digital recording are spattered far and wide across the internet, enough so that i won't go in depth here.

My advice is, rather than spend hours debating or researching different arguments on this topic, get a basic understanding, pick a standard, and put that extra time into making music.

Ok, Oversimplification time;
Computers talk in 0's & 1's, On or Off, Blocks, Bits (Digital)
Sound talks in waves, smooth and curved (Analogue)

If Digital is a light switch that can be either on or off, light or dark, then Analogue is the dimmer switch providing a subtle and continuous change between the points of light and dark.

The Bit Depth relates to how closely to the Analogue curve the digital representation follows.

Its like trying to trace a smooth curve on graph paper while only being able to follow the grid lines. The smaller the Grid (Higher the Bit Depth) the closer you can get to the curved line you are trying to follow
The sample rate is simply how many 'snapshots' of the original signal the computer takes. Long story short the higher the sample rate and bit depth the more accurate the digital representation.
However, remember that the higher you set each of these the larger the file sizes you create and at the end of the day if you are ultimately going to CD it will be bounced down to a Bit Depth of 16 and a Sample Rate of 44.1KHz so setting these at their highest isn't necessarily advantageous.

The File Type you are using is also important and should be a 'Lossless' type such as AIFF or WAV and not a 'Lossy' type like mp3.

Playback Engine & Buffer Size
The first thing you should do after setting your Depth and Rate is making sure you have the correct playback engine selected. This will come up under the name of your interface (in my case Saffire as shown above).

The buffer size is related to how much processing your computer can handle and in theory should be set low for tracking which will reduce latency and high for mixing which will increase the amount of plugins you can use. 
A good starting point is 128 Samples



02/12/2016 8:35pm

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03/22/2016 9:07am

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05/03/2016 11:22am

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05/20/2016 12:51am

Wow, this article is amazing. I like it.

07/12/2016 10:40pm

Is 128 Samples really a good starting point?

07/25/2016 8:21am

I'm ready for a science revolution!


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