Bouncing Tracks

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If you are working with a four or eight track recorder, leanr how to get more out of it by bouncing tracks.

If you are working with a 4 or 8 track multitracker, you will be faced with the inevitable evils of "bouncing tracks", also known as "ping pong" recording. If recording on a PC, this issue becomes extinct, but, until musicians universally accept the PC as a viable recording medium, this will continue to plague the home recorder as the only way to get more instruments into their recordings

The object of this game is to take your existing tracks (most often the rhythm tracks), and mix them down to a single mono track or a pair of stereo tracks in an effort to free up more tracks for the more "upfront" sounds such as vocals, lead guitar, etc.

The important thing to keep in mind here is that when they are "ping ponged" they are mixed for good, and the panning is set for good. So, make sure you like the mix and stereo image. It can only be changed very little after that, and any changes apply to anything on those tracks, so, take care and be patient.

When bouncing, make sure your levels are the highest they can be, to get the strongest, cleanest sound. bouncing generally leads to the obvious generation loss, but, with care in maintaining the levels, and proper EQing and a good quality tape and tape machine this side effect can be minimized.

If at all possible, avoid combining soloing instruments or vocals on bounced tracks, in the final mixdown, you will probably want to process those instruments individually to make them stand out. This will rarely be the case since those instruments are usually the last ones recorded. Most people I know that still use a multitracker record the rhythm section (drums, bass and maybe rhythm guitar) and bounce those to a good stereo image, and then put the lead guitar tracks, vocals, or any horn sections or keyboards on the tape. as these instruments all need very diferent care when mastering, it is nice to have them on al seperate tracks.

Every multitrack machine has a different method for getting a bounce (or, ping pong) done, but it always involves redirecting the output of each existing track to an open track or tracks. This redirection is done either by an built-in internal routing, or, in smaller units you need to 'record-enable' the tracks you wish to move to, and use the panning on each track, or patch cables to direct the sound.

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