Recording Audio from Reason into Pro Tools

   By Sarah C   Categories: Audio SoftwareGeneralMixing Techniques

When you are satisfied with the audio coming into Pro Tools from Reason, you should either bounce it to disk or record directly to Pro Tools audio tracks so that you don’t have to continue running Reason together with Pro Tools.


It is not possible to adjust the mixer or other controls during a bounce to disk, so I usually prefer to record to Pro Tools tracks instead.

Step 1. Use the Track menu to create a new stereo audio track.

Step 2. Choose an unused stereo bus pair as its input.

Step 3. Change the audio output of the instrument or auxiliary input track that is being used to monitor Reason to the same stereo bus pair so that the output of this instrument or auxiliary input track is routed to the input of the audio track.

Step 4. Record enable the audio track.

Step 5. Make sure that the counter is at the location you wish to record from (e.g., press ‘Return’ if you want to start from the top) and start recording by pressing ‘Play’ then ‘Record’ in the Transport window.

Step 6. Pro Tools will record the audio to disk – see Figure 7.16. When this has finished, hit the spacebar to stop recording.


Figure 7.16. Recording the audio output from Reason into Pro Tools

Ableton Live


So what is Live all about? For me, Live is all about ‘Instant EDM (Electronic Dance Music) Gratification’—with its library of electronic sounds that will immediately bring this musical genre to mind!

Live is definitely one of those ‘must-have’ software applications if you are putting beats and bass lines together with MIDI—building arrangements up with beats and bass line, leads and pads, bells and whistles (or whatever) and dropping in samples all over the place until you hear something you like. Live lets you quickly rearrange the order in which sections of your music play and makes it simple to play parts from one section alongside another section. And when you drop in sampled loops, these automatically play at the correct tempo. All amazingly helpful!

Live’s session view lets you do the ‘jamming’—improvising arrangements on the fly using short clips that can be overlaid and sequenced—while the arrangement view is used for linear multitrack recording and editing, and you can quickly switch between these using the Tab key on your computer’s keyboard.

You can show or hide an info view at the bottom left of the main window. This displays helpful explanations about whatever you point the mouse at in Live’s window—making it very easy to learn how to use Live. You can also show or hide a help view at the far right of the main window that lets you access tutorial material that explains in more detail how to use Live.

Live’s browser, positioned at the top left of the main window, lets you search through the supplied preset sounds, samples, and effects. For example, the instrument rack presets combine an instrument with a selection of Live’s audio effects. When you drag one of these presets into a MIDI track, the track name changes to the name of the preset and the controls for the preset appear in the editor area at the bottom of Live’s window.


You can also drop a preset into the empty space next to the tracks and Live will automatically create a new MIDI track for the instrument.

Using Live Basics

Programming beats to create 1-bar, 2-bar, or 4-bar (or longer) MIDI clips in Live’s session view is one of the most basic ways to get started with Live. Recording linear MIDI tracks in Live’s arrangement view is just as easy.

Follow the steps listed here to get a basic idea of how to operate Live.

Step 1. Open the Impulse drum kit folder from Live’s browser and drag a preset kit into a MIDI track in Live’s session view.

Step 2. The track’s Arm button is activated automatically, so it can receive MIDI, and you can go ahead and play your MIDI keyboard or hit the middle row of keys on your computer keyboard to play the drum sounds. The lower-case keys in the middle row of the keyboard, (a, s, d, f, etc.) are mapped by default to Impulse’s drum slots.

Step 3. Double-click any empty session slot in the track that contains the Impulse instrument to create an empty MIDI clip to record into. You can create any number of empty MIDI clips in the session view and record into these.

Step 4. Make sure that you are hearing a metronome from Live (or from Pro Tools), and click the Session Record button (the one with the empty circle positioned to the right of the automation buttons at the top of Live’s window) to activate recording—then start dancing on those keys! Stop whenever you like and play back to listen to what you recorded. To overdub, just press the Session Record button again.

Step 5. Press the ‘b’ key on your computer keyboard to enter Draw mode. Now you can draw notes into the MIDI note editor at the bottom of Live’s window.


Figure 7.17. Using Draw mode in Live’s session view

Step 6. Press ‘b’ again to exit Draw mode then click and drag any note to reposition this. Or click a note to select this and hit the Delete key to get rid of it. You can drag around several notes to select these or press Command-a (Mac) or Control-a (Windows) to select all the notes, then press Command-u (Mac) or Control-u (Windows) to quantize the notes to the current grid settings.

Step 7. One of the most impressive things about Live is the speed with which you can do things. Say you have programmed a one-bar pattern and you want to change this to a four-bar pattern. Just click and drag on the loop length parameter (see Figure 7.18) and it instantly changes to the new length—even while the pattern is playing back. So you can keep on building up patterns while listening to your music build up before your very ears!

Step 8. Press the Tab key on your computer keyboard to switch to Live’s arrangement view.


Figure 7.18. Live’s MIDI note editor showing the clip’s loop length parameter being edited

Step 9. Drag a piano preset from the Piano and Keys folder in the browser’s Electric Instruments folder and drop this onto a MIDI track in the arrangement. The track will be armed, ready to play, and the device editor will appear in the lower part of the window.

Step 10. Now you are all set to record a linear MIDI track lasting the whole length of a song if you like. Just go to the bar from which you wish to start recording, hit the record button that you will find with the other transport controls at the top of Live’s window, and play your MIDI keyboard or the keys on your computer’s keyboard. You will hear the drum loop that you recorded earlier playing back at the same time.

Step 11. When you have finished recording, double-click the colored bar at the top of the MIDI clip that you have just recorded to open the MIDI note editor in the clip view at the bottom of the window. Here you can edit your performance.

Step 12. Hold the Shift key then press the Tab key on your computer’s keyboard to switch the clip view back to displaying the device editor so that you can edit the sound of the instrument or apply effects—see Figure 7.19.


Figure 7.19. Live’s arrangement view showing a recorded MIDI track with the device editor displayed in the lower section of the window

More Live Features

Recording bass lines and lead lines is equally simple using the built-in sampler instrument—called Simpler. This has enough bass sounds, pads, choirs,assorted keyboards, and strings to let you put relatively ambitious musical arrangements together on top of your beats. As with Impulse, you can play this from the computer keyboard. This has an octave of notes laid out on the middle row of keys with the sharps and flats on the upper row of keys. You can transpose the range by hitting the ‘z’ or ‘x’ keys and change the velocity of the notes using the ‘c’ and ‘v’ keys. So you can do lots of stuff with Live just using a laptop—without a MIDI keyboard!

A third built-in instrument, Operator, is a powerful synthesizer that, like Impulse and Simpler, is totally integrated such that every parameter can be automated or performed in real time. The drum rack instrument features an expanded version of Impulse’s pad layout, with many more editing and sound design possibilities.

Live also has lots of built-in effects such as phaser, flanger, arpeggiator, and my favorite—beat repeat. This lets you create short loops on the fly, controlling their lengths manually or via random functions for endless variations.

And there’s much more! Like Reason’s combinator patches, Live’s Device Groups feature allows you to save Simpler, Impulse, Operator, or any other instruments, together with chains of MIDI and audio effects attached, as presets. You can also use external MIDI instruments, and support for MP3 and other compressed formats means that you can use just about any type of audio file in Live.

These features have all proven extremely popular with DJs and remixers who appreciate the way that Live lets you make spontaneous creative decisions while building up ideas.

Excerpt from In the Box Music Production: Advanced Tools and Techniques for Pro Tools by Mike Collins © 2014 Taylor & Francis Group. All Rights Reserved.


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