Final Mixdown for Peformance

Flavio, I hope you or someone else can tell me the steps to handle the following situation. I’m asking because there is nothing in the manual about it. I love n-Track, by the way. I’m using Windows 10 and the latest version on n-Track. Anyway here’s what I need.

I have many custom-made MIDI files of Michael Franks songs that I had commissioned. Each MIDI file has a number of instrument tracks. For each song I want to do the following:

  1. Add audio tracks with background singing (my voice).
  2. Possibly add and/or modify some of the pre-recorded MIDI tracks to suit my liking.
  3. Remove the pre-recorded melody track so that I can sing the melody in performance.

The steps above I already know how to do. But I want to end up with two things for performance:

  1. A mixed-down WAV file of the above.
  2. An empty MIDI track with instrument changes built into it so I can play along while I sing the mixed-down song, and the instrument I’m playing on my keyboard will automatically change at certain points in the song. For example, I could have an instrument change at the beginning of the bridge of the song and then change back to the original instrument following the bridge. I’m pretty sure I can simply select a different instrument to play anywhere I want in the empty track as I hit the notes on my keyboard. Is that correct? Do I need to record the empty MIDI track with the instrument changes at the correct locations in the song? I assume I do.

To summarize, I need to know the all mixdown steps to take to end up with the two steps above so I’m ready to perform the song. Sorry for the long question. Thanks in advance for your kind assistance.

I’m not sure if I understand the question relative to point 1, that basically the regular usage of n-Track. Check out our video tutorials at https://ntrack.com/video-tutorials
As for point 2, you can use program change events added to the ‘play along’ MIDI track to make the MIDI synth switch the sound at certain points in the song. For this to work you need to uncheck the “Filter program changes” option in the Settings → MIDI box.
When the playback cursor will cross the time where the program change is located it will send the event to the MIDI synth which will change the sound accordingly. This works when the MIDI synth is using a single sound bank that contains all of the sounds that you want to use in the song. This is rarely the case with n-Track’s built-in sounds, most sounds are from soundbanks (i.e. soundfonts) that have only a handful of related sounds. You could make n-Track Sampler load a third party soundfont with all the sounds that you need. You should be able to find a General MIDI soundfont that might work for your use case.
An alternative that lets you use the n-Track sounds would instead be to have multiple empty instrument tracks in the song, each one with one of the sounds you need to play with during the song, and you could switch between the tracks during playback. You could connect a a few notes or other midi events to the ‘Select track’ event in the Settings → MIDI control box, so that you could change the selected track without having to use the mouse.

Flavio.

Thanks so much. You answered my second question perfectly. Regarding the first question about mix-down steps, here’s what I meant. First, I’m not sure how to set the master volume in relation to the individual track volumes. How should I go about doing that? Second, I see that n-track has a “Normalize” function. Should I normalize each track before mixing down?

Thanks!

You shouldn’t normalize tracks before mixing down. The master volume should be set based on the level of the master, not based on the volume of tracks. If you see that the master maximum playback level is low (say -8 dB) you increase the volume by +8 dB so that the maximum level is 0 dB, i.e. you end up exploiting the maximum dynamic range of the audio signal. You can check the master level with the big playback vumeter window (View → Playback vumeter menu command) and with the red clip lines that appear in the timeline time axis during playback.
To increase loudness without going above 0 dB you can add a Compressor plugin to the master (and potentially on one or more tracks). You can use the Edit → “Scan song for clipping” command to check if the song is clipping or not, you should keep the master level low enough to avoid clipping but still have a maximum level near 0 dB.

Flavio.

Perfect. Thank you! I really appreciate the help.