5 Pro Tools “Gotchas”

Apparently a “gotcha” is the answer to the question, “why can’t I hear anything?”  Pro Tools has many signal routing possibilities that can “getcha” if you aren’t careful.  If you can’t hear a signal in your mix that you a certain you should be hearing, here’s a quick list of five things to check:

1.”I can’t hear the reverb plug-in that I just added!”  Is your reverb return getting input from a bus and/or is the track sending to the same bus?

Output selectors in Pro Tools give you the option of outputting signal through outputs or busses.  While outputs route through your interface, busses route internally.  Using aux tracks for reverb is the most efficient way to apply reverb to a track, and must be routed internally via busses.

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2.”I’m not hearing my mix!” or “I’m not hearing my stem!”  Are outputs in the I/O setup assigned to outputs of your interface?

Even if a path has been created in the output section, it isn’t necessarily mapped to an actual output on your hardware interface.  Click on the bus tab of the I/O setup page and choose the proper outputs of your interface in the “mapping to output” section.

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3.”I can’t hear the track I just recorded!”  Are record enabled tracks set to Input Only monitoring?

A record enabled track set to Input Only monitoring will only allow you to hear input signal and not recorded signal on playback.  On an HD system each track has a green input monitor button next to the red record button but a standard system does not, so it’s easy to miss.  Disable the “set record tracks to Input Only” in the Track menu or use the keyboard shortcut option+k(mac)/alt+k(pc).

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Standard

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4.”I can’t hear the cowbell part I just added to Track #783!”  How many tracks are in your session?

Pro Tools does have a limit on the number of tracks that are available for playback.  Although this is quite a high number, I have seen that limit reached.  This number is dependant on the type of Pro Tools system you have and the sample rate of your session.  Refer to the Pro Tools reference manual (Chapter 5 – Pro Tools Systems) for specifics regarding your own system.

5.”I’m trying to patch in my real life LA-4 on the bass track, only now I don’t hear it at all!”  Did you insert the outboard gear on your track properly?

Using a little tube compression (from actual tubes) on the bass sounds really nice, but it must be routed to the device through an interface I/O.  Choosing the wrong interface I/O will interrupt the signal and prevent playback.

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