Newbie Q - 4 TRACK CASSETTE to N-Track

Hello -

I just bought N-Track today in the hope that I could use it to transfer some old 4-track cassettes to digital.
I am using a Focusrite Saffire PRO 10 via Firewire (on loan from a friend) to get the 4 analog outs from the cassette multi-track deck to the computer.

I am using the ASIO sound driver for the Focusrite in N Track as input and output device.
Unfortunately, the help file for N-Track doesn’t delve too deeply into making recordings of more than two sources at a time.

After a lot of trial and error, I am to the point when I can play the cassette tape and see the levels showing up on the VU meter in N-Track.
When I hit record, the upper right panel on the screen (the one with the timeline that starts at zero and moves along the time axis) moves along, but it does not show a waveform and there is only one large gray area, not 4 horizontal tracks as I would expect.
In the lower left area of the screen I have four channels, each one is set up with record from the appropriate source (I have 1/2 L, 1/2R, 3/4L, and 3/4 R).

I can stop record, hit play, and it will play back what I have just recorded, but I never see the audio waveform image in the panel with the timeline, and as I say there is one large panel with a vertical line scanning across in time but no waveforms showing.

Also I think I am having a problem with regard to how I am saving the recordings.
I was stopping the tape playback after each song was finished, and then doing a ‘save-as’, naming the song file (saved as ‘something.sng’).

I see it made a .wav file for each track and then a main file but I can’t seem to open the wave files - some of them are very small and don’t appear to be containing any sound data.

When I tried to move the files that N-Track saved into a sub-folder and then re-open one of the song files later, N-Track went looking for other files that I didn’t think were even associated with that particular song and it went into an infinite loop trying to shut down - it sent an error dump to the Author.

Sorry, I am not sure I am explaining all of this very well as it has been a confusing last few hours trying to figure out exactly what I am doing wrong.

All I am trying to do it set up N-Track to record 4 tracks from the tape. I would like to make a kind of template setup for this, so I can open up the N-Track software whenever I have time, and just make a take from the tape and then save it as it’s own file (or group of files).

Also, I would like to be able to have each track in the song saved as a standard format (like a wave file) so they could be loaded into other sound editing programs if need be (like Audacity).

I think I am doing something wrong but I’m not sure what it is.
Any advice most appreciated!


IN no particular order:
A good way to save tracks with names is to do a File >Save As before you record.
Tracks are created as you record directly to the hard drive.
They are given a file name of New Song.wav if you don’t name it.
If you File > SAve As in in advance of recording it is recorded to disk with that name and a track designation: example
She’s my GirlL1.wav, She’s my GirlL2.wav,She’s my GirlR1.wav, She’s my GirlR2.wav.
This is also a good way to specify where the data is saved ( you can specify the location with Save > As

N-Track creates a She’s my Girl.sng file that points to the locatin of the recorded data.
If you just move it, it may not know where the files are.
You can do a search for New Song.Wav and locate the veracious files by date and time and move the sound files in to a directory and File > Import them to save them to a new n_Track file.
If you forget and want to move all of the data to a new location, use File > Move/Rename Song.
You can have the title attached to the wav files and move them to a new location together with the N-Track sng file.

Go to Settings > Waveform display to turn the wav form display on/off and control other features.
See if File > Save As Template will work for your setup

N_Track is a powerful program that has a lot of things you can control.
Look around at the menus dropdown/submenus
and experiment with them. If you want to understand a command better, the Help menu may be a help I knew that many of the things you wanted were available in the program, but I had to look them up - of course, I had the benefit of knowing they were there somewhere.

Being new to the program with a specific task can be a chore in Any program. When you find something you don’t understand we are glad to help.
I hope this helps,

Hi, Polaris.
It sounds like you have got it nearly cracked.
Firstly, have you made sure that you are recording “audio” only? There is a button in the upper left tool bar with icons that resemble one of three things: a mic (audio), a keyboard (midi) and one of both mic/keys, which arms midi and audio recording. Check it is set to mic only(audio).

Check the zoom levels - you may be zoomed-in on a midi track that you inadvertently created - if so, these midi tracks can be deleted.

You can export/mixdown anything out of n-T as a wav/mp3 etc.

Thanks Bax and TonyR,

To the immediate left of the large ‘time’ window where I am expecting waveforms to be, there is a slender vertical window that says “no tracks” in it. Nothing that I click on can seem to make waveforms appear - it only has a button for “add new track” which is not what I want to do. I would think N Track would be set up to display waveforms out of the box. As far as I can tell, I am only recording audio data but I will double-check that.

I think the ‘save as’ problem I had was that I was appending all of the other tracks on top of each other or something. I am used to working with software where when you do a SAVE AS you are essentially creating a new file with only the new data in it - in N TRACK it seems as if somehow it saves all of the data from all of the previous times you did a save as. I say this because I was listening to the playback just now of one of the shorter tracks and after that track finished there were leftover bits from other files I thought I had saved to other file names.

I made a file named Template.sng and it at least allowed me to start fresh each time with the correct in/out and track settings, but then when I hit stop recording, 4 new tracks appeared alongside the 4 that were there when I first opened the file. I was able to delete the old and save the new 4 tracks as a new song file but should that be happening?

Basically I am just getting N Track to do what I need it to do but when something does work, I’m not sure how I made it to work, and every so often something odd or unexpected happens along the way.

I was playing back a track just now and messing with the EQ and it sounded great until the track started sputtering and the Windows error window popped up and I had to shut down the program.

I would like to use N Track exclusively for the final mixing and adding some new effects to these tracks but I am a bit more familiar with Audacity for that kind of stuff which is why I wanted to play around with either platform. have to admit I still don’t understand the idea of having more than one wave file associated with a given track. I can see the potential good in it in case you didn’t want to erase a take but I am used to Audacity where you can see all of the waves stacked vertically and do whatever you want with them.

thanks again,

try this: Open the record VU window - there is an icon for that. Click on the Red record button and Select "Set all audio inputs to record to new tracks"
I think that will do it.

When you open the template file, immediately do a Save As and rename everything to the new sng file.
N-Tracks will work as a Non-destructive editor ( you can have it do destructive editing) Sound files, wav of otherwise are recorded directly to the disk as you record. When you save in non-destructive no change is made to the physical file - n-Track has created sort of an overlay of all the changes you make before you saved and reloads them without changing the physical sound file. Until you Mixdown (called rendering in other programs I think) the changes are all completely reversible. You can us the same basic tracks and create many different versions of the same recording without permanently changing the original recording.
Do frequent Saves to to a project, so that you can go back to the last known working save, in case something goes wrong.
You have a specific task in mind and you are in the process of learning a new software. That means you are on a journey of discovery. I might suggest that you concentrate on copying the recordings first. This will get the sound files on your computer in a format that you can work with for a long time in many different programs. Once you have the sound files, you can start learning to make the adjustment you want to make - just a suggestion from someone who has been there, and hates to have to learn something new to accomplish some “simple” task.
I am not sure why the “sputtering”. That can be a long list of possibilities. but that could be a problem with the computer’s ability to handle the plug-in, or any of a lot of different things - including using a driver that is not working at it’s best. You have three major selections for drivers/protacals - MME, WDM and ASIO. I do not know which works best with your audio interface. You have to try them out. Different people and computers and interface have strong and weak points - unfortunately, a lot of that is trial and error. You’re going to have to give us more information on your setup and the audio selections you are making.
I kind of hope you will take my advise and try to just get things recorded first, then more on to mixing. You are trying to archive some recording, get that done, you can take years to get the rest the way you want if it takes that.

I am slowly getting the hang of this. I had mentioned earlier that when I tried to relocate the files generated by the various ‘save as’ commands, the program would try to find the wave files for the songs and I had to look for them manually. Interestingly enough, when I was doing all the ‘saves’, it associated every single wave file from every save I had done. For example, I tried to open one of the songs, and I got no less than 30 something pop-ups looking for wave files that I know had nothing to do with the song I wanted to open.

I guess I am still having a hard time envisioning why the program associates wave files to a song that have nothing to do with that song (they were never part of the 4 tracks I though I was saving when I would do a ‘save as’). I understand now that the song file contains pointers to the audio and does not save the audio itself and I understand why this would be a good thing to have, but where can I see visually every single wave file associated with that particular song, so that I know in advance when I am saving it that there are about to be 30+ files that don’t belong in it?

I had the program crash several times, every time while I had opened the EQ and the waterfall plot was active. I tried shutting down the waterfall plot and I have had no more crashes since then.

I hear what you are saying about just getting the files down to disc first and then worry about the editing later, but what is throwing me off is the way the wave files are associated to a particular song. For example, I tried playing back a track wave file from what was labeled as part of Song ‘A’ and it was audio from a totally different song " Song ‘F’, for example. All of the song waves from that title were in fact from a totally different song, yet when I then opened the song file (after telling the software to ignore the 30+ ‘missing’ files), it played the correct files just fine.

So somehow I would like to set up the software so that when I save a song, I know exactly what wave files are being associated with it so there is no more confusion in the future.

Also I don’t see why I should have to make a template.sng at all if the software would allow one to remember the last state as a default so that when you open it at a later time, you have all the audio ins and outs and number of tracks all set up ready for a fresh recording session, without having to open a file and then ‘save as’ (which I think would just do what happened before where now you have 8 tracks appear instead of 4)?

I still have yet to see any audio waveforms appear in the upper right portion of the screen. What can I be doing wrong? (It says no tracks to the left of that window, but I am playing back the tracks and hearing them just fine, I even did some mix-downs to wave files no problem, adding effects and EQ, but still no waveforms are showing up in the window. Maybe I need to re-install the software? I tried all of your suggestions thus far with no dice…

Thanks again for all of your patience!


I think getting the wav form display is key to you being able to understand what is happening in the program. Have you tried
"Settings > Waveform display" to turn the wav form display on/off and control other features." If it is turned on, is it minimized or hiding behind some other module?
Between projects you need to do File > New to clear what you have done and start a new project.
All the Settings comeback every time you load the program. The Template is mainly to load track names, routing and effect assignments.
Have you tried using the Tutorial? It’s been a long tie since I ran it, but it should give you a step by step on using the program. If it doesn’t, I like to know so we can work on getting it fixed.

You mentioned that you had moved files from one place to another - this is why n-T couldn’t find them.
In preferences > paths you can choose where files are recorded to.
I always start a new project by firstly creating a new, titled folder and then create an n-T song/project (.sng) and “save as” in that folder.

Re-installing is quick and easy and will restore global defaults (choose not to keep existing settings) which might resolve any screen-layout issues.

Does your screen resemble this when you open a “new song”?

Thanks again Bax and TonyR for your patience and sorry if I made a meandering mess of the topic…

I finally stumbled onto what I was missing before - the tab near the waveform window that says ‘no tracks’ - I had not tried right clicking on that before - that’s where I found the option to turn it on (I had been looking in the tabs at the top where there is a pull down listing including one for waveform display options).
I still think it’s odd that it isn’t displayed by default upon installation ( or else I somehow turned it off inadvertently).

I was able to open one of the songs that I had saved and sure enough I see that every wave file associated with it was titled in reference to another completely unrelated song.
I think I just need to be more careful about the associations (helps now that I can see them).
I was even able to pop open an external wave editor and clean up some of the tracks.

I can see now N Track will be a great tool - I just had to get used to how it works - I guess all powerful software is like that to an extent, although I’m still a big fan of out-of-the-box user friendliness.

I did go through the tutorial but it seems to be geared to a task that didn’t really help me with my particular problems.
I think since transferring multi-track analog recordings would be one common use for N-Track, there would be something mentioned about it in the user guide.
In my case the challenge was increased by using a firewire interface I had never used before, and having to ‘upgrade’ to Windows 7 in order to get said interface to work (I’m an XP holdout).

Again - thanks guys - much appreciated!

Glad you’re up and running.
I had a feeling you’d screwed the screen layout. It would still be a good idea to reinstall or restore global default settings. (on initial start-up, choose NOT to “use existing settings”.

I like to think of N-Track as being a fancy tricked out analog multitrack recorder (although I know it’s not analog). The reason I relate it to an analog reel to reel multi-track recorder is that analog systems are not intuitive, and neither is this program (not knocking the program, by any means).

I’ve been reading some of the posts today and finding comments that made me think that some people are expecting this program to automatically know what you want to do with it and that it should respond in kind. Not gonna do it!!

Like I said, think of this program as a tricked out multi-track tape machine. You wouldn’t expect a 24 track analog tape machine to instinctively know what you’re going to do with it; you can’t expect this program to, either. But know this, if you don’t set it up to do what you want it to, it will certainly do its own thing, and you may not like the outcome.

It will do what you want, but you have to tell it what you want it to do. If you approach this program with this in mind, you will have an easier time with it. You just have to learn how to navigate around it, which isn’t difficult.