How to get a click track?

Hey, there. I’m having trouble getting started. Cannot figure out how to get a click track, and can’t search that here because “click” and “track” and “click track” are not searchable terms. When I Google, I find complex workarounds saying there are no click tracks in Cubase and that they have to be created from the ground up. Any help would be appreciated.

There is no built click track, no. If you want a track that clicks you do indeed need to build one. Which isn’t too much workd if you’re always going to be playing in the same time signature but…

Probably easier to try searching “metronome” instead. Or clicking the icon that looks a little bit like a metronome (if you squint) at the right hand end of the transport bar. Alternatively, from the Transport menu, “Metronome setup” and “Use Metronome”. Can also be turned on and off (once setup) by pressing “C” (which strangely isn’t short for Metronome…)

Yes - use the metronome. Once you set the speed and time signature, whatever you play will be in time with the midi, drum and instrument editors so it’s easy to add tracks that are all in time.

You can additionally set up the Control Room mixer with up to 4 separate monitor feeds with their own mixes and individually turn on/off the click for those. You can customize the click (metronome) to use audio or midi sounds. So no need to use a separate click track.

While the metronome is indeed the quickest and easiest solution, I create my own because I prefer the sound of a snare side stick to the electronic tone of the metronome.

Creating a click track isn’t difficult. Instantiate an instrument track with whatever drum vst you use, then go to the key or drum editor for that midi part. Find the note you like to hear for the click, e.g. the side stick in my case, and create four quarter notes on 1, 2, 3 and 4 (assuming 4/4 time in this example). I then adjust the volume of 1 beat to full so that I get an accent at the start of each measure.

Once that single measure is created, it’s just a copy and paste exercise. I’ll typically paste it three more times, then select all four and paste that. Then I select all 8 and paste that, etc. Because of how fast that grows, it takes me under a minute to do a click track. I have the click track in all of my templates. If you don’t use templates, you can just copy and paste the midi from a different project once you have one.

It actually took me longer to write this up than it takes me to create a click track, if that gives you any idea.

If the metronome sounds okay to you, there’s no reason to go through all this, just do as the others suggested. However, if you want more control over what it sounds like, your accents (I sometimes use an open hi hat on the 4 of my two bar count off), etc., then creating a midi click track gives you that flexibility, which you can then easily reuse.

No right or wrong ways to do it, all that matters is what you’re most comfortable with.

You don’t have to create a click track to change the sound of the metronome. You can let it point to any midi out port/channel/note or even choose wavefiles that contain the sound(s) you prefer.

Just looked at the manual and I see what you’re talking about, thanks.

This is what happens when you run on automatic pilot for a decade or two after compensating for features that aren’t available at the time (e.g. before Cakewalk became Sonar).

When you work with the same application for years it easy to get stuck in familiar patterns. So I know exactly what you mean. :slight_smile: Nowadays Cubase is so packed with major and minor features that it’s not difficult to overlook new enhancements that can really spice up your workflow. Especially because it’s not always that obvious where to look or how to configure it. Or sometimes to even know it’s possible. But that’s why where here… to help each other, right?

Periodically I’ll sit down with the manual and just read sections to see what the latest reality is. I’ve been know to RTFM from cover to cover, but haven’t done that in a while. Looks like it’s time for another weekend of caffeine and reading. :slight_smile:

Me too :slight_smile: Although I must say that Steinberg is not really known for their well written manuals. It’s usually an enumeration of menu items and options the program contains. But It usually doesn’t explain much about how to do things. Fortunately they have some excellent videos on YouTube and there’s more from other third parties.

The manuals explain the various functions of the program and plug-ins, but are lacking in usage examples. This is where the forums are an indispensable part of the on-going learning process and the sharing of information.

A “click track” is not a simple metronome. The click of a click track is timed to a specific number of film or video frames and sub-frames and may have no relationship, as such, to the tempo of the musical cue. However, it is possible to flip this and establish X number of Frames = 1 beat in which case the click is acting as a metronome during recording.

So, if you want an actual click track, you’d have to create it using a track in Cubase with the clicks aligned to the frame rate and perhaps the tempo you’re working with. The sound can be any appropriate sample, wood block, etc.

If you want a very good metronome, use the one built-in to Cubase. It works very well.

In fairness, they adhere to a certain style of tech writing common in the software biz, particularly the corporate segment, and for that style their manuals are nicely done. In that domain, reference manuals (which is what “manual” is short for) and tutorials are considered to be different things.

Musicians, however, often need more than just a reference manual. Probably the best documentation I’ve ever seen for a musical audience was the early days of Mackie. Clear, informative, great usage examples and a sense of humor that is pretty much forbidden in the corporate world. I miss those guys.

I remember the old Cubase manuals back in the Atari and early PC days where also more aimed at the usage of the application. There was hardly anything on internet and there where no forums to ask and still I managed to figure out most of the stuff using those manuals. Today I don’t thing it will suffice. On the other hand it’s a different era and manuals are written with the knowledge that there’s You Tube and third parties available to get the additional info you need.

I still have and use a small 12 channel Mackie Microseries mixer. Now more than 20 years old but still crystal clear of sound! And yes, the way they composed their manuals was unique and a real joy to read.

…yes, you’re correct on the original meaning of Click-Track…but I wonder how many musicians mean that when they refer to a “click track”? I suspect not (and I’m not going down any drummer joke paths here either…) :wink:

What I do is use a cowbell for a click ,I’ve always liked that sound …so I just insert the sample on beat 1,2,3,4 then make events to part then make it as long as the seq ,this way I can mix it in the phones per each phone mix also I can put 16th notes on complicated bars of bars of 7 that the stock metronome can’t do

Yes, you probably get easier control over levels this way, it was the way I used whilst the “remember the settings for metronome” was broken for several years. The built in metronome will give you as many clicks per bar as you want…but if you want different clicks in different bars then yes your approach is the way to go.

Do hope the OP is coming back to get all this! :wink:

My guess is that the more experienced people who post here know this – probably better than I do. However, I think the term “click track” has been made synonymous with “metronome,” but they are really not the same. I also don’t like that is is common to say one is “filming” when recording video on a digital camera, but, that’s how it is and usage norms are, for good or ill, here to stay.

Anyway, the original post got me thinking. If I wanted to create an actual click track in Cubase, for example, one click every 24 frames, or, one click every 30 frames drop or non-drop TC, I’m not sure I’d know how to go about doing that in Cubase. Perhaps some kind of Logical Editor process? In other words, the tempo of the music or tracks could be changed, but the click track would stay locked to time code frames. Can Cubase do that?

I think so

Set the project framerate to the one you need,
set the ruler to timecode,
set the snap value to 1 frame.
Put your clicks on the track and arrange them, they will, of course, snap to timecode while that ruler is active.
Set the Time Base of the track to Linear.

I wrote that from memory, but I think that’s how.

OT, but I must disagree. IMO, Steinberg’s documentation is excellent - what there is of it anyway. Take the HALion manual. Very accurate and detailed. What’s missing is a “big picture” section that gives the newbie a place to get started. This is also a problem with the Wavelab manual. The other universal problem seems to be that Steinberg manual indexes are so lightweight they are all but useless. But if you understand the big picture and know where to find the information you’re looking for via the table of contents, the documentation is really quite good.

I wouldn’t say they’re bad or anything but just not very inspiring and to much of an enumeration of menu items that speak for themselves. I mean you don’t have to point out that on every track type has a solo button which is used to solo the track. IMO things like that are best described in a ‘common’ section for all tracks so you don’t have to repeat yourself like 10 times over. And there are several parts where complicated functions just get mentioned they exist in the menu without going into any detail of what it actually does and how to use it. It’s no more than a reference manual which is sufficient for it’s purpose but not very inspiring. Like ChrisDuncan an I said earlier, Mackie had the right touch. Compact, to the point, with some excellent examples of usage and with a touch of humor.

Today Steinberg manuals are written in a minimalist corporate software style that doesn’t really match the potential and creative nature of this software and rather follows the style on how we can configure and operate ATM. And IMO that’s a pitty.