Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Pro Tools Quick Tip: Automatically "Mute" Your Talkback Mic During Playback

If you're like most people using a DAW, you probably don't have a recording console with a dedicated talkback mic complete with a handy push-to-talk button. This can cause problems since your talkback mic will always be open, leading to ambient noise in the headphone mix that can be distracting to the artist, and if you are monitoring the same mix they are, it can prevent you from accurately hearing what is being recorded. You could use a microphone with an on-off switch built in, but I find that this is a less than elegant solution that adds yet one more thing to think about during a session, and as far as I'm concerned, the fewer things you need to think about, the more focus you will put on the things that are the artist's performance. So here's a simple "set it and forget it" solution that will automatically mute your talkback mic anytime the track is playing, and open it back up as soon as playback stops.

Step One: Create a mono aux track and set the input for whichever hardware input your talkback mic is connected to. Then, insert a compressor with a sidechain input onto this track.

Step Two: Create a mono audio track. Make an Edit selection on this track that spans the entire length of the session, plus a few more bars for good measure. If you don't know how long the session will be, try ten minutes. It's only important that the selection be at least as long as your session.

Step Three: Use the AudioSuite Signal Generator plug-in to generate a 1 kHz tone at -10 dB on the audio track. This tone should fill the entire selection that you created in Step Two.

Step Four: Set the output of the audio track to an internal bus, and set the side chain input of the compressor on the aux input to that same bus.

Step Five: Set the compressor for the fastest possible attack and release times, and adjust the ratio and threshold for the maximum amount of gain reduction. Now, when you press play, the compressor should instantly duck the talkback mic's level by more than enough to effectively mute it, and as soon as you stop playback, the level should come right back up. You may need to adjust the makeup gain on the compressor to find the best talkback level.

1 comment:

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