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OK so we have all been in that situation where we are doing overdubs somehwhere other than a studio perhaps the whole project is a location recording. Or maybe we you are just wanting to record in a bedroom home studio. At some point we might have the option to put that pesky singer, drummer or  in another room so as we can whip out our montor speakers rather than working on headphones. Great! we have isolation, we can make noise in our 'control' room without it spilling into the  mic.

On a side note this reminds me of when used to have a production room at a large studio facility. I was recording a wicked jazz guitar duo...acoustic guitars. Now these guys had a magic moment going on as I was desperately holding in the coughing in whilst I sat a couple of feet away at my desk...trying desperately to not rock backwards and forwards too much in case they got distracted.

I managed to hold in the cough until the end of the take and than had a coughing fit of epic proprtions..each bout interspersed by "man that was a good take". The guys then said to me 'oh was it? Cool...you know you could have stopped us if you needed to cough'. They then proceeded to reel of another 20 takes of different tunes that were equally as good.



Artist Engagement

So to really give critical encouragement and feedback to your artist who is in the next room you could do one of three things:



  1. Walk through...something I do quite often in real studios but that's more about getting the artist to do a specific technique etc...don't be afraid to get up and walk in!
  2. Shout through...well that's a whole barrel of monkeys you are letting loose when you start shouting through instructions. It can work but generally you don't want that kind of ASBO worthy behaviour. (For non-UK based readers and ASBO is an Anti-Social Behavior Order, a court order given to yobs, scoundrels and general scullduggerers who disturb the local neighbourhood). Shouting though instructions can also be subject to communications issues. in terms of people mishearing etc.
  3. Finally we have the option of using a talkback system like a civilised human being.


BUT WAIT - your mobile rig doesn't have a talkback system!


Here's how you make one -


Creating a Talkback Channel

OK so you have a spare preamp on your mobile rig and you want to talk to the artist...pop in a mic and set up a channel. Mics  I'm using Mixbus, if you have a differnt DAW it might vary slightly so just use this an inspiration. For instance you might use an audio track in Pro Tools and set the input monitor to on for HD systems.

Of course if you have a swiched mic you can set up an AUX input or bus and just use the switch to control talkback.

A note on Pro Tools

In Pro Tools systems without per-track input monintor (non-HD systems) you might want to use an AUX INPUT channel and keep handy on the mute buton, you can use an audio track but you will have to have it armed to record and that causes problems when you actaully want to record other tracks.

Auto Input Monitoring in the Track menu us useful in a way as it gets you some of the way there. When enabled record armed channels will feed through the input source during stop and record mode, during playback the channel will play back recorded content on the track. Remember to solo safe your talkback channel too..just in case you solo a track and forget that the artist can't hear you.

There is a way to get around this...sort of...use an Aux input for the talkback if you have a plugin that is PT compatible that will allow audio to pass only during stop mode. There used to be a free one form Massey that did this!

Or you can use a high ratio compressor with a side-chain from some other source. In the past I have used a bus or a pre-recorded sine wave or noise track. The side-chain only kicks in during playback and will duck the hell out of your talkback input before it passes to the cue feed to your talent. Obvoisly you don't feed the sine wave to the master out or cue, it's just there for control of that ducker/compressor.


There is a way of adding a "talkback' channel to your create new tracks pop up dialogue. I might talk about this at some point soon in another video, so subscribe to the blog and channel if you like.



Setting Up In Mixbus


1. Simply create a new mono audio track named Talkback - Set the input to your mic input channel and make sure the input is set to auto. That means there is a yellow square round the I or D buttons at the top of the channel. If one is highlighted in yellow then click it again to enter Auto mode.

2. Now set your output to the output of your CUE feed (the mix that goes to the live room). You could use an external send, an aux Mixbus or just the direct output on the bottom of the channel (the  - button, just above the CMT button). Remember you might wan't to turn off the Master bus assign here to avoid feedback in the 'control room' Handy Tip: If you prefer artists to not wear headphones all the time, you can feed the talkback to a speaker in the live room. This means that they don't all have to wear cans....a great solution for acts that don't use a click and aren't cutting live vocals because it feels just like jamming.

3. Make sure that Mixbus is set to Auto Input in the Transport Menu dropdown. This will ensure that the channel passes your audio when playback is stopped but not during record or play.

4. Finally make sure you have Solo Isolate is set - that is the I button with the red "LED" at the bottom of the channel. This will allow you to solo tracks for critical listening but will not mute your talkback.



Remember you can add this setup to your favourite template to avoid having to set this up every time.




  1. Remember automatic talkback setups like this will open as soon as playback stops!
  3. If you have a mic with a swich USE IT!
  4. Personal Experience tells me that people can misinterpret half heard sentences and that can be very awkward.

Happy Recording Folks.


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