How important is the Click
What is a click track? The click track is the BPM and Tempo represented by a sound. This sound is an audio representation of your DAW’s time meter and in modern music is essential to creating polished, radio worthy recordings.
When I first started, I didn’t even know where the click function was found in my DAW. I used Cubase at the time, which I loved, and was just struggling with getting recorded audio into the computer. It wasn’t until I started recording bands years later that I realized my recordings were missing something. My recordings at the time were all over the place in terms of tempo. There would be a part that dragged then all of sudden sped up. Guitars were sometimes noticeably off even though they were simple over dubs. I saw vocalist struggle with finding the downbeat that they couldn’t begin their verses and choruses on time.
It wasn’t until my band was offered an opportunity to record at a multi-million-dollar studio that I learned how important a click track was.
Keeping everyone in sync
At its very simplest, a click track keeps every band member on the same page in terms of tempo. From years of experience, each band member usually envisions various tempos when recording a song. This is because typically the drummer is the tempo conductor. If the drummer is not really that good, a song’s tempo could truly be all over the place.
Click tracks takes what every band member is thinking and blends them effortlessly in your DAW. Now there is always a proper start and stop time for every measure of the song. Navigating your way through the song is effortless and your song begins to take on a structure.
Believe me when I say, most modern music uses a click track. My advice to you is to start using one immediately. Your studio will instantly take on a new level of professionalism and will output more cohesive and enjoyable recordings for your listeners.
As you learn more about your DAW and how to navigate within it and as you learn more advanced techniques like editing and comping, you will undoubtedly see how effortless a song that was recorded with a click can be, particularly when editing.
No one is perfect and no one can play a perfect take. Sorry, your uncle who claims he was a badass guitar player back in the day, still had his imperfections, especially when it came to recording in a studio. There is something magical that happens to a band when they get in the studio and realize that they really aren’t that good of individual players. Sure, in the garage with all the amps turned to 10 and the drums bleeding your ear drums it sounds good, but in the studio, you cannot hide from your imperfections. Thus, comes in editing
Editing is the art of moving wave forms around in your DAW. This may involve a lot of cutting and pasting or merging depending the situation. Either way if you have a song that was recorded to a click, you essentially have a 100 percent accurate account of the song’s tempo which means you should know where everything is supposed to be when it comes to timing.
In essence you could lock every not and hit to a grid and it would sound perfect. Not that you would want to do that, but you could. Because of the click you now have the option to clean up every individual’s recorded take and move them around accordingly without compromising the integrity of the song at all.
Time editing in the modern era is essentially a given when it comes to mixing and recording. Just like autotune, you better learn how to use it, or you will lose clients right away. Bands nowadays expect a level of perfection that you must deliver, particularly for drums. Try reading up on our “How to Edit Drums like a professional” blog to gain further insight.
Every DAW you work with will now have a very versatile Midi and virtual instrument component. Midi, musical instrument digital interface, is how you are able to communicate notes to a virtual synthesizer. I would say that about 95% of all music you listen to contains music played from a Midi device through a virtual synthesizer.
Time locked session allow user to know a predefined tempo and time signature that never changes. This essentially means that a keyboardist, knowing the tempo and time signature, could create their part on a totally different device or DAW and easily import that information into the session you are working on and it would fit seamlessly with no timing issues.
When creating midi information, you could easily lock it to a songs grid thus creating perfect takes of your playing every time. Because of the click, you know where everything needs to be and can move Midi notes to a tempo locked grid. Thus, your performance will be in sync with the song’s tempo 100% of the time.
Using a click from the very beginning of the recording process will make you song sound professional and will ease the process of getting audio and Midi into your DAW that much easier. I can tell you from my personal experience that when I began using a click track in every one of my sessions, everything changed. I instantly felt that my recorded product sounded better, and my clients were happier. Don’t be intimidated by the click, embrace it!