Tutorial: Pro Tools Track Preset Trick

Track Preset Hero

You’ve just returned from a field recording session. After backing up your work, you dump your raw sound effects into a Pro Tools session for mastering.

If you’ve mastered sound effects for any length of time, you’ve likely crafted a Pro Tools editing session template, arranged to taste. Perhaps you’ve built a session with tracks arranged, panned, and sized just how you prefer. You’ve stacked each track with the proper plug-ins. Of course, it’s a pain to recreate this layout every time you fire up Pro Tools.

Thankfully, Pro Tools’s session templates sidestep the hassle of redoing this every time you launch the app. That’s been around for a while.

Session templates are a global way of setting up your editing workflow. What if you want more control? Well, an intrepid Pro Tools fan discovered a hack: track presets. They work similarly to session templates, except on a more granular level. The hack allows users to add preset track arrangements within a session. How does this help you?

Well, imagine you just discovered some 5.1 surround recordings hidden in your stereo sound effects mastering session. There’s no need to go through the bother of adding six new editing tracks to your session, panning them, naming them, or arranging them. Simply use the hack to drop in a preset arrangement of six tracks already panned, named, and ready to go.

The track presets store naming, arrangement, grouping, levels, plug-in settings, and colour. It doesn’t seem to store track size.

Of course, this overlaps a lot of what session templates do. The advantage of track presets is that they can be added to existing editing tracks without disrupting your session in progress. They can also construct sessions dynamically: cobble together a session using the track presets with a stereo mastering layout, a quad set up, and your favourite strip of EQ plug-ins.

How to Create Track Presets

How do you do it? It’s simply a matter of setting up your tracks, then saving them in a slightly unusual way:

  1. Create your tracks.
  2. Arrange them however you prefer. Name them. Group them. Set panning and levels. Colour them. Add plug-ins and apply their settings.
  3. Select the tracks you want to save as a template.
  4. Choose the menu item File/Save as Template…
  5. Select the Select location for template… button from the following pop-up menu.
  6. Create a folder called “Track Presets” within the main Pro Tools app folder.
  7. Create another folder, and give it your preset name (e.g., “Quad Track Layout Preset”).
  8. Save the preset inside this folder. Note: the preset must have the same name as the folder in the previous step.

Then, you recall your track presets from Pro Tool’s Track/New… menu item dialogue box:

Add track preset

Notice the new Mastering, Stereo, Mastering, Stereoize, and Mastering, Surround track presets that appear after the standard drop-down options. Those are track layouts I created myself.

That’s an abridged guide based on this excellent tutorial video from KennyMania. That video explains the idea in depth. I recommend you watch it for the full details.

Track Preset Ideas for Sound FX Editors

The video tutorial presents examples from music mastering: track presets for guitars, drums, and so on. How can this idea be applied to sound effects? Here are ideas:

  • Basic stereo mastering track layout: 6 tracks with a back up pair, mastering pair, and bounce pair. Additional presets for quad mastering and surround mastering track layouts.
  • Stereoize track layout: mono with delay sends, aux channels, and destination stereo pair.
  • Mid-side track layout: tracks and plug-ins arranged to decode two-channel M/S recordings.
  • Processing track arrangements: plug-in settings and order.

Of course, the track presets you choose will match your personal editing preferences. And that’s the point: it’s a good tool for quickly modifying a Pro Tools session to match your personal taste on the fly.

Via The Loop

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