Multi-Output MIDI Drum Audio in Tracktion Waveform

If you haven’t been separating your MIDI drums into separate audio files In your DAW, this post will help you get familiar with the concept. As soon as you understand why you’d want to multi-output MIDI drum audio to separate tracks, you’ll wish you’d have started sooner. Follow the steps in this post to learn get better control of your drum kit pieces’ audio in a Tracktion Waveform project.

01 June 2020 – Written by Michael R. Myers

Skill Level: Intermediate

Separate Your Kit Pieces Now!

Separating your drums will require your plug-in of choice to support multiple audio channels. What this means is that you’ll configure the plug-in to send its kick drums on audio channel 1, the snare drum on channel 2, the cymbals on channel 3, etc. Most plug-ins will have a limit of channels available for routing, so you may have to get creative if you have a large kit and many pieces to output.

If you haven’t had your drum kit’s pieces recorded into separate audio tracks within your DAW, you’re about to learn how to get fine-grained control over each instrument. Having each instrument isolated to its own track, your EQ can be applied specifically to one instrument to allow you to get the results that may not be possible when every instrument is stored into a single track.

You can also use a sampler plug-in and configure multi-output MIDI drum audio. Some samplers have more channels available for configuration than others, so you’ll have to research your sampler and its specific output capabilities to determine how many channels there are to output.

Another reason to separate your pieces’ audio is to make mixing easier for you, or the person you hire to mix your tracks. Having the source audio available allows for easier manipulation and also for applying specific types of effects.

Finally, most DAWs support some sort of folder-like grouping so that all related tracks can fit under a main track. This organization helps visually to save space when they are compacted and out-of sight. It also makes it easy to mute or unmute the folder group during playback. So do yourself a favor and make a “drums” folder group and place your kit’s pieces under this group.

What You’ll Need to Get Started

Steps to Separate Drum Kit Pieces’ Audio

  1. Open your project in Waveform and delete all default tracks.
  2. Set your project’s beats-per-minute value, if desired. The default is 120 BPM. Note that it’s preferred to set it at the start of the project versus waiting until all of your tracks are in-place. Setting is located at bottom right-hand side of screen, above the Play transport. Click to change the value.
  3. Create a new track to hold your source MIDI drum pattern file. You can either create a new MIDI file or import an existing one. Name this track “MIDI Source”.Waveform-Create_MIDI_Source_Track
  4. Import or create your MIDI file on the “MIDI Source” track. Be certain it contains several drum kit pieces so that you’ll be able to see the audio separation technique working. Waveform will ask you if you want to retain a tempo if you bring in an existing MIDI file. As shown below, the MIDI I added has several instruments.Waveform-Add_MIDI_file_Multiple_Instruments
  5. Now that the MIDI pattern is in place, we need to define our drum plug-in instrument that will provide the drum kit’s audio output.  In addition, we will need to specify each drum kit component’s output audio channel so that each item has its own audio track.
  6. Add the MT Power Drumkit 2.0 plug-in to the “MIDI Source” track.
  7. While MT Power Drumkit is free, they do ask you for a monetary donation when the plug-in is invoked each time.  To skip this message, click the Skip button.  If you want to permanently  remove the screen, make a donation. Each time you re-open your saved Waveform project, you must open the plug-in and click the “Skip” button to get sound while it is the free version. If you donate, the nag screen goes away permanently.MTPowerDrumKit_Nag_Screen
  8. When the drum kit loads, you can click on the individual pieces and hear how each piece sounds. Note that all kit pieces will produce sound output at this point because they are all assigned to one output channel by default.
  9. Click the Mixer button at the bottom of the MT screen.MTPDK-Main_Window_Mixer_Button
  10. On the Mixer Settings window, you will see the kit pieces presented in vertical strips. At the bottom of each strip, the Out is set to “1”. All kit pieces are using “1”, so we need to change them to use different channels for output. Refer to how I made changes and grouped the toms since we only have eight (8) output channels to work with.MTPDK-Mixer_Window_Settings
  11. On the main PDK window, click on various pieces. They are now silent, except for the kick drum (or whichever piece you assigned to Out 1. You can close the MT Power Drumkit window now.
  12. We need to convert the MT Power Drumkit plug-in into a Waveform Rack so that we can easily re-use the plug-in on all of our separated audio tracks as we build them out. Let’s build the kick drum now, then you’ll be able to repeat the process for the other seven (7) audio channels.
  13. Right-click the PDK plug-in and choose “Wrap this plugin in a new rack plugin”. When the plug-in window shows, close it. We’ll accept all of its default settings for now.
  14. Create a new track in Waveform and call it “Kick Audio”.
  15. Open the rack you just created. At the bottom right-hand side, click the grey button and drag it to the “Kick Audio”. The following screen will display and show you that the rack has automatically wired the kick track.Rack-Adding_New_Instance
  16. We do not want Waveform’s default wiring to the tracks, so click the “Clear Wiring” button at the lower left-hand side of the screen and choose “Clear all output wiring”. Your screen should now look like this image.Rack-Output_Wires_Cleared
  17. Now here’s how we get audio to our kick drum track. Starting with the top output circle, click and drag to the top of the Kick Audio object. This first line will be the left side of the audio channel number one (1). The second circle is the right side of audio channel number one (1). Remember as you wire the remaining tracks that they are really stereo pairs and the top one is always the left side of the pair. Rack-Manual_Wiring_to_Kick_Drum
  18. Now test your work in Waveform. Press play (space bar) and you should only hear the instrument you configured in PDK for Out 1. For me, Out 1 was assigned to the kick drum. Looking at the image below, you can see the green output bars showing that my kick drum track is playing audio. Waveform-Show_Kick_Is_Working
  19. Now, while the audio is correctly routed to the isolated kick drum track, we are not able to record it just yet.
  20. For our “Kick Audio” track, we are able to output kick drum audio. But we’re not able to record it. To record, we need to make a new track named “Kick Print”. Set its input source as “Kick Audio”. Waveform_-_Create_Printed_Audio_Track
  21. Arm “Kick Print” for record, Press R on the keyboard and your “Kick Print” track should show the waveform of the recorded audio.
  22. Finally, be sure to mute your “MIDI Source” and “Kick Audio” tracks after you print your audio. Otherwise all of them will play concurrently which is not needed.

Where To Go From Here

Now you can move forward and repeat the steps for each of the seven (7) remaining output channels of the Power Drumkit. Note that you’ll need to clear the output wires each time you add a new “{name} Audio” track since Waveform automatically, and incorrectly, wires up the new tracks. While this process will take some time, as long as you re-use the project or render your drum tracks, it’ll be worth your time investment in the future.

Before we conclude this tutorial, I’d suggest that you re-organize your project and make use of folder tracks to group the Audio and Print tracks. That way, you can collapse the view when you are finished and no longer need to view the audio files group. You can expand the printed files group and focus your attention there for recording and exporting.

Summary

I hope you can see the benefits of using a project to configure multi-output MIDI drum audio on separate tracks within Waveform. What worked for me was to create Waveform projects for each one of my drum VSTs so that I can just drop the MIDI file in and record it easy with several different kits. At mixing time, I can decide which kit sounds the best and use its output audio files.

If you would like to add to this content to help other folks, please contact me and let me know what you have in mind.

Digitech GNX4 MIDI Drums Through Your DAW

Have you ever wanted to use your Digitech GNX4 as a MIDI drum machine from your Digital Audio Workstation (DAW)? Recently I was working on a MIDI drum pattern and I wondered if it would be possible to send a MIDI track from my DAW to the GNX4 to perform and record it. Typically I use one of several drum kit VSTs within the DAW to generate my drum audio, but I was looking for some variety in the drum sounds. The good news is that I was able to send the MIDI track from the DAW to the GNX4 and record its playback in the DAW. Follow the steps in this post to generate Digitech GNX4 MIDI drums through your DAW.

29 May 2020 – Written by Michael R. Myers #mykmyrs

Skill Level : Intermediate

Before we begin, I use Tracktion Waveform 11 Free as my DAW. I have not tried this GNX4 configuration in any other DAW. If you used another DAW, and got it to work correctly, please let me know the configuration steps.I will gladly update this post, giving you full credit, so that we can help others get up and running easily on varied software products.

Dealing with Audio Latency

Latency is a factor in this configuration, so playback can and will be affected by the latency you are going to experience. Even at 16ms, the fastest setting I have available to me while working on my Mac, there is a small delay while recording the GNX4’s output. When you record, be sure to set some lead-in space before the start of your drum MIDI and also at the end of the track to pick up any audio trails of the drum instruments.

I initially got this configuration to work on my 2011 iMac running High Sierra. When I wrote this post, I was using my iMac booted into Windows 10. The latency values in Mac went down to 16ms. On the same computer, running Windows 10, my lowest latency was 256ms in Windows Audio (Exclusive Mode). That is a HUGE difference in combating latency while recording.

What You’ll Need to Play Digitech GNX4 MIDI Drums Through Your DAW

  • Tracktion Waveform 11 – while free to use, it does require an account at their web site
  • Digitech GNX4 connected to a PC or Mac via USB
  • GNX4 drivers, if using Windows. Mac users do not need any drivers
  • Ability to configure your DAW software for MIDI and audio inputs/outputs
  • Ability to configure the GNX4 MIDI channel and USB audio sources
  • MIDI files of drum kit instruments

Steps to Configure MIDI Drum Playback

  1. Create a new project in your DAW.
  2. Add a new MIDI track and name it “MIDI Source”. Create a MIDI pattern in the “MIDI Source” track, or insert one you have available.Waveform 11 - Create MIDI Track
  3. Ensure your GNX4 is powered on and connected to your computer via USB so that we can configure it as an input device.
  4. In Settings>Audio Devices, set your Digitech USB 1-2 as your input device. Set your speakers/monitors as your output device. Set your audio buffer as low as possible. 160 ms was the lowest I could set without Waveform telling me I was exceeding capabilities.Waveform11-GNX4_Audio_Input_Properties
  5. In Settings>MIDI Devices, enable anything Digitech USB-related. Waveform gives the devices an alias, which is shown in the screen shot below. We’ll need this alias later, so I point it out for your information.Waveform11-MIDI_Device_Settings
  6. Now we’ll switch to the GNX4 unit and complete the configuration there.
  7. Let’s set the MIDI channel for the GNX4. Press the Utility button to the right of the data wheel until the display shows “MIDICHNL”. Turn the data wheel until it shows “AL”. This sets the GNX4 to Omni mode where it can handle MIDI on any channel.GNX MIDI Config
  8. Now set the USB source option for USB channel 1-2. Before you begin, make a note of what the initial value is so that you can change it back when you’re finished. Press the Shift button under the built-in recorder on the GNX, then press the CF USB 1-2 SRC button. Use the data wheel and change the value to “DRUMS ST”. Press Shift to exit.GNX4_CF1_2_Drums_ST
  9. Return to your DAW now. Configure your MIDI track’s output setting on the far right-hand side of the track. I had to choose “Digitech Mac USB-2” as my default MIDI output. To test, press play on your DAW’s transport. If the GNX4 is receiving the MIDI, its level meter (at the top right-hand side of the built-in recorder) will show flashing lights. You will not hear any sounds in the DAW yet, but you will know that your signal is getting to the GNX4.Waveform11-Setting_MIDI_Source_In_Track
  10. Create a new audio track and name it “GNX4 Drums”. Set its input source as the USB 1 channel and its output to the standard 1+2 output. Turn on your live input monitoring and press play on the DAW. You should be hearing your GNX4 playing the MIDI file.
  11. Arm your “GNX4 Drums” track for recording and record your MIDI file. Your track should display a dynamic waveform of the recorded audio.Waveform11-Drum_Audio_Track_Settings
  12. If you want to try other GNX4 drum kits, feel free to change them and see what sounds the best to you. There are several stock kits available and auditioning them all may prove useful to you in your DAW’s mix.
  13. You may need to experiment with an ideal latency recording setting, and also setting it much higher for playback. In Mac, I needed to record at 16 ms and play back at 256 ms. In Windows 10, changing the latency for playback didn’t seem to be needed.
  14. At this point, the tutorial is complete.

Where To Go From Here

Now that we’ve seen that it’s possible to use your GNX4’s drummer capabilities in a DAW, I’d suggest a few enhancements. First, break the individual kit pieces into their own distinct audio output tracks. This will give you fine-grained control over each piece’s sound and allow for better mixing. Second, record multiple takes of the output audio with different GNX4 kits so that you can blend them together and see if a hybrid of the audio works in your style of music. Finally, experiment with integrating the GNX4 output with the output of other drum VSTs to create something new and unique.

Summary

I hope this tutorial has helped you and that you found it useful to learn how to play Digitech GNX4 MIDI Drums Through Your DAW.

If you would like to add to this content to help other folks, please contact me and let me know what you have in mind.

Post References

Anderton, Craig. Digitech GNX4 Guitar Workstation: The Power User’s Guide.  Schirmer Trade Books, 2005.   Digitech. (2004). 

GNX4 Multi-Modeling Recording Guitar Workstation Owner’s Manual. Sandy, UT.

Extract MIDI Audio and Notes in Waveform 11

Have you ever wanted to output a MIDI file as audio and also capture the actual MIDI notes that produced the audio? A practical usage for this process is extracting the MIDI from a file where there are multiple instruments in the file, such as a drum kit’s kick, snare, toms and cymbals. With the extracted MIDI, you have the source data available to help you create new instrument parts, variations or other embellishments without the need to endlessly copy, paste and manually delete instrument parts you don’t need. Follow the steps in this post to learn how to extract MIDI audio and notes in Waveform 11.

27 May 2020 – Written by Michael R. Myers

Skill Level: Advanced

Why Do You Want to Extract the MIDI Notes????!!!!

That is the question I have received numerous times on various Internet forums and other groups while I was trying to figure out how to extract MIDI notes. I’d also get suggestions like “Just record the audio output and be happy with that” or “Nobody needs to capture the MIDI notes while they’re playing” or “Just copy the whole MIDI file to a new track, highlight what you don’t want, and delete it”. I even checked in with Tracktion’s technical support team, got a case number and in the end they said it couldn’t be done easily. I assume the technical support agent was also confused as to why I wanted the playing audio output AND those corresponding source MIDI notes. Fortunately for me, I got more motivated to find the solution, and I did it with some free VSTs and a video tutorial on YouTube by Bill Edstrom.

First, Let Me Explain…

To step back a moment, here’s my motivation to extract MIDI audio and notes in Waveform 11. I made a Waveform project that uses a source MIDI file for performance by a VST drum kit instrument. The VST drum instrument, MT Power Drum Kit 2.0, plays the MIDI file and sends each individual instrument’s audio to its own track so that I can record the drum kit pieces’ audio on distinctly separated tracks (kick drum has its own track, the snare has its own track, etc.). I assume you do something similar to control the output levels of each of your kit’s pieces. If you aren’t separating out your kit components into dedicated tracks in your DAW, you may want to look into that practice sooner than later, especially if someone else mixes your work.

After I have created each instrument’s audio track in the DAW, I then export the audio to files and then import into another DAW for mixing and EQ adjustments. With me so far? Good. Let’s continue.

After a few sessions of recording audio tracks from the MIDI file, I realized that I may want to output the source MIDI notes in addition to the output of the audio. For example, having the kick drum’s audio and source MIDI notes allows me to save small, defined pieces of performances that can easily be copied, re-used or altered easily. If I decide that I am not liking a certain VST’s audio output, I can easily swap the VST drum instrument and re-record from my source MIDI. If I didn’t have the MIDI notes, I would potentially have to chop the audio file and edit it to create variations which could take a lot of time and effort.

But right now, I know you are still asking yourself why I would want to do this. Couldn’t I “just copy the MIDI from the main source track, delete out the instruments I don’t want and continue along my way”? Sure, but that could potentially be a lot of work and re-work if I make one or more errors in my edits/copy-paste.

For my workflow and the way I work, I tend to write my drum parts and guitar riffs in very small sections, generally 1 or 2 bars at a time. When I write in small sections, I can audition the audio and the MIDI to tracks to do A/B comparisons easily. I can edit the captured MIDI and play it back in small sections to create variations and copy them back up to my main source MIDI track as I build the overall song. The best part is that I am using technology to do the repetitive grunt work of capturing audio and MIDI notes with simply arming tracks for record and doing a take.

What You Need To Succeed

Make sure you install all of the prerequisite plug-ins before attempting to continue.

Due to the length of this tutorial, I plan to write continued variations for specific uses of the techniques presented. These include using multiple VSTs to generate different instruments’ outputs for blending, auditioning various drum kits during playback and much more.

This lesson is the just the starting point of the series and shows how to use one drum kit plug-in to capture individual drum kit pieces’ MIDI source notes and the corresponding output audio on separate tracks.

Steps to Extract MIDI Audio and Notes in Waveform 11

  1. Create a new Waveform 11 project. Delete all tracks so we can start fresh.
  2. Create a new track and name it “MIDI Source”. This track will hold our drum pattern file(s) and represent our entire drums for a track.Waveform 11 Add New MIDI Track
  3. Add an empty Rack plug-in to the MIDI Source track. Within the rack, drag the red line (MIDI) from the left-hand side dot straight through to the right-hand side dot. This will simply pass the MIDI data out of the track. Name the Rack “MIDI Through”.Waveform 11 wire MIDI in rack
  4. Place a MIDI file on a track. For this tutorial, use any drum MIDI you want, just be sure it has multiple instrument parts like kick, snare, cymbals and toms so that we can separate them into their own source tracks.
  5. Right-click in the area under MIDI Source and select “Create a new folder track”. We will need to make a group of tracks per instrument. Groups allow for organization and easy enable/disable operations during playback or for recording. Name the folder track “Kick (36) Group”.Waveform 11 - Kick Group Track
  6. Let’s make our first sub-track for the kick drum. Create another new track under the group track. Grab the new track, hold your mouse button and drag it under the folder track until the folder track looks like it lights up a bit. Drop the new track. If you performed this movement successfully, the new track shows a bit indented under the folder track, and the folder track has a small indicator icon on its left-hand side. Clicking the indicator either expands or compresses the view to show/hide the new track. Name the new track “Kick MIDI Filter”.Waveform 11 - Create sub-folder track
  7. Kick MIDI Filter is the track that is going to help us receive the MIDI Source track’s notes and will filter the notes to a specific MIDI key value. Recall that (36) in the group folder track’s name? That 36 is the key value of the General MIDI specification for a bass/kick drum. I like to place the values in the names so that I know where they are mapped visually.
  8. Open the MIDI Through rack on the MIDI Source track. At the lower right-hand side of the dialog window for the rack, click on the box and drag it to the plug-in area of the Kick MIDI Filter track so that it has an instance of the Rack. This instance allows us to receive the MIDI Source track’s MIDI output.Waveform 11 - Drag Rack Instance to Track
  9. Now that we are receiving the MIDI input on the Kick MIDI Filter track, we need to filter for the actual kick drum note value. Add an instance of eaReckon’s MID Polysher plug-in directly after the rack instance you just added. After adding, you will see the Polysher configuration window. Set the two key range values to 36, which is the kick drum’s MIDI note value. Note how all of the piano keys will turn red except for 36. Close Polysher after the configuration is completed.MIDI Polysher Kick Drum Filter
  10. Now that we have a track that is filtering the MIDI source data to only handle the kick drum, let’s make a new sub-track to “print” the kick drum’s source notes. To save the notes, we simply arm the new track for recording and it saves the notes to the track. Follow the previous steps for making a new track and dragging it under the “Kick (36) Group”. It should be under the “Kick MIDI Filter” track. Name the new track “Kick Only MIDI”.Waveform 11 - Create sub track
  11. On the new track, we’re going to add our drum VST instrument so that the MIDI the track receives can be printed. It will also produce the audio output of the filtered kick drum so that we can make a new audio track to capture (“print”) the audio output. Add MT Power Drumkit as a plug-in to the “Kick Only MIDI” track. Be sure to open the drum kit and click the “Skip” button so that the plug-in makes audio output.
  12. Now we’ll add the final sub-track to the group. Create another new track and drag it under “Kick Only MIDI” in the folder group. Name the track “Kick Only Audio”.Waveform 11 - Create sub track
  13. We’re finished creating all of the sub-tracks within the kick drum group. Let’s wire the tracks up so that we get MIDI notes and output audio.
  14. Right-click the empty area under “Kick Only MIDI” and choose MIDI Tracks>Kick MIDI Filter. This sets the source of the track to our MIDI notes from the Rack on the “Kick MIDI Filter” track.Waveform 11 - Configure MIDI Notes' source
  15. Right-click the empty area under “Kick Only Audio” and choose Audio Tracks>Kick Only MIDI. This sets the source of the track to our Power Drumkit audio performance from the “Kick Only MIDI” track.Waveform 11 - Configure audio output  source
  16. We’re finished with all of the kick drum configuration at this point. Now it’s time to test and prove we will get only kick drum MIDI notes on “Kick Only MIDI”, and only the kick drum’s audio output on track “Kick Only Audio”.
  17. Arm the bottom two tracks in the kick drum group for recording and press the R key to record.
  18. Press the spacebar when your play head passes the end of your MIDI file to stop playback. Press the W key to return to the start of your bars. You should now see that “Kick Only MIDI” has only kick drum notes, and that “Kick Only Audio” has the recorded kick drum audio.Waveform 11- Waveform-Captured MIDI and Audio
  19. At this point, you can repeat the steps and make a group for each of the instruments in your drum kit. Be sure to change the MIDI note value in the Polysher plug-in within each group so that you are filtering for the correct instrument.

Summary

We’ve finally reached the end of this tutorial. You now know how to extract MIDI notes and audio in Waveform 11 Free. While it was a long journey, you can save your project so that the configuration is finished and ready for your next project. Leave a comment or send me a message to let me know if you were able to use this, build on it or recommend it to someone.

Tracktion Waveform Resources and Links

This page is my personal collection of Tracktion Waveform Resources and Links that I’ve found along the way. Know of any great links? Share them in the comments below, or contact me.

21 May 2020 – Written by Michael R. Myers

Video Resources

Free

SourceLocationNotes
Bill Edstromhttps://www.youtube.com/user/lilacwriter
Tracktionhttps://www.tracktion.com/training/videos
Simple Green Techhttps://www.youtube.com/channel/UCW3Ey41-XL7p64C19jT8NUA/videos
RecordingStudio9https://www.youtube.com/user/VatcheMusic/videos

Paid/Subscription

SourceLocationNotes
Groove3https://www.groove3.com/

Rename A Tracktion Waveform Project

Have you ever tried to rename your saved Tracktion or Waveform project‘s name? It’s a multi-step process and not overly obvious how to complete. Follow the steps in this post to learn how to rename a Tracktion Waveform project.

19 May 2020 – Written by Michael R. Myers

Skill Level: Beginner

Contents of a Waveform Project

Before I outline the steps to rename a project, let’s take a quick look at the components of a Waveform project. Knowing these parts should help you to understand what we will change with the rename operation.

When you create a project, Waveform (or Tracktion) makes a folder with the name you specify. Within this folder, it makes several sub-folders and it creates the project file and the project’s edit file.

Steps to Rename the Project

  1. Open your project in Waveform that you want to rename.  I called my project “DumbProjectName” when I created it, but now I want to give it a more meaningful name.
  2. Click the project name in the Projects tab. Waveform Projects screen
  3.   In the properties window at the bottom of the screen, change the name of the project and press Enter.  I have just re-named it to “Song01_Source”.  Notice that the project name in the Active Projects pane automatically shows the new project name, but the Edits file name still shows with the old project name.Waveform Rename project - Step_3
  4. Click on the Edit file name in the Edits pane.  Similarly to changing the project name, provide the desired name in the Edit pane.  Your project name and edits file name will now match. Close Waveform and continue to the next step.Waveform Rename Project - Step_4
  5. Finally, let’s change the folder name that contains the project so that it has the new project’s name.  Open your file explorer and navigate the the folder that contains your project’s folder.  Rename it to be the new project’s name.  The folder, *.tracktionedit file and the *.tracktion file should all show as having the same name.Waveform Rename Project - _Step_6
  6. Congratulations! Your project folder, its project file and edits file are now renamed.

Summary

Now you can rename a Tracktion Waveform project. It probably was not overly obvious how to complete it successfully, but moving forward you can reference this post if needed. What this situation taught me personally was to make sure I name a project properly as one of the first steps I complete when creating something new.

If you would like to add to this content to help other folks, please contact me and let me know what you have in mind.