Click tracks are an essential tool for audio engineers or mixers who work with live performers or collaborate on a project with multiple musicians. Click tracks help everyone stay on beat and in sync, no matter what else may be going on in the mix.
Learning how to create and control a click track is one of those basic Avid Pro Tools skills that pretty much everyone should know. We’re here to walk you through it so you can look like a pro at your next recording session.
What is a click track in Pro Tools?
A click track is a type of track that emits a sound (usually a clicking sound) that corresponds with the beat of the music or mix and is used to help synchronize audio recordings or live performers.
The sound of a click track is usually a sharp tapping sound but can often be configured to other noises such as a beep or bell. The click track functions as a modern, digital metronome that helps musicians and audio engineers ensure that every part of a music arrangement stays on tempo.
How to add a click track in Pro Tools
To add a click track in Pro Tools, just follow these simple steps:
Step 1: Open your Pro Tools session (or create a new one).
Step 2: Navigate to the top menu bar and click on “Track”.
Step 3: Under the “Track” menu drop-down, select “Create click track”.
You will now see a new track in your project timeline labeled “Click.” This is your newly created click track.
Okay, so now that you have your click track, it’s time to modify it.
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How to mute a click track
The first thing we’ll need to know how to do is mute our click track. There are honestly few things more annoying than having to hear that constant click while you’re trying to edit.
There are a few ways to mute a click track:
- By pressing the  key on your numeric keypad.
- By navigating to the Options menu and deselecting “Click” in the drop-down.
- By going to your MIDI Controls window and locating the metronome icon. (If the icon is blue, your click track is enabled. If it’s gray, the click track is disabled.)
How to get a click track to match the tempo of your music
There are a couple of ways to get your click track to match the steady tempo of the music in the project. Which method you use will likely depend on whether or not you know the exact tempo of the audio track already.
If you know the tempo that your music should be set to, follow these steps:
Step 1: Above the click track, locate the small red triangle on the narrow “Tempo” track that indicates the start of the click track.
Step 2: Double-click (or Ctrl + click) on the red triangle to open the “Tempo Change” options menu.
Step 3: Under “BPM,” enter the beats per minute (tempo) of your music.
Step 4: Click “OK” to lock in your changes.
If you don’t know the exact tempo of your music, you can use the tap tempo method to lock in your tempo. Here’s how:
Step 1: Go to your MIDI Controls window, then find the conductor icon to the right of the window. Make sure this button is grey, not blue or green (deselected).
Step 2: Click on the numerical value next to “Tempo” in the transport window to highlight it.
Step 3: Hit “Play” on the track of which you want to find the tempo.
Step 4: Tap the “T” key on your keyboard along with the beat of the music.
You can do this as long as you want until you get the proper rhythm “locked in.” Then, pro Tools will average the last eight taps to create the tempo.
Step 5: Press the Enter/Return key on your keyboard to lock in your new tempo.
Now that you’ve learned how to create, activate, and control a click track, you’re on your way to managing live recording sessions like a pro. You can also use click tracks to synchronize pre-recorded audio tracks or help you with synching audio to a video file. But, no matter what you use it for, you’ll likely find yourself creating click tracks for a lot of your audio projects.
And if you’re looking for a better way to bring your remote audio production team closer together and collaborate more efficiently from a distance, consider Evercast.
The Evercast platform is the easiest and most seamless way to stream Pro Tools, Logic Pro X, Ableton Live, or even Garageband edit sessions in HD while video chatting and exchanging notes with your team in real time.