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Embedding Rig Settings into Audio Files with Eleven Rack

Only published comments... May 04 2010, 10:06 AM by tobydunn

When recording with mic’d amps and effects pedals, it has always been tricky to re-create sounds for overdubbing parts. I used to just replay the whole part instead of trying to match the sound and levels of a previous recording. It certainly helped to have a multi-effects unit with presets, but I would rarely write down which patches I used, let alone remember not to change a patch if I thought I might need it again!

So when we were thinking about how to integrate the Eleven Rack rig settings with Pro Tools workflows, we realized that one of the keys would be finding a way to automatically remember which settings were used during a session. When you’re jamming away on new ideas, you shouldn’t have to worry about writing down presets! With Eleven Rack, we had the opportunity to make this much easier within a Pro Tools recording environment.

One of the coolest new features in Pro Tools (implemented by Pro Tools code master Doug Tissier) is the ability to save your Eleven Rack rig settings as metadata inside of recorded audio files. In other words, the rig setting data is recorded inside the WAV or AIFF file along with the audio data. This means you can adjust the amp gain or chorus level and then hit Record, and the current rig settings will be captured in the audio file when you hit Stop. No worries about remembering to save the rig so you can overdub parts later—you can always re-create the exact settings used during recording. The settings stay with the audio file, so you can extract the rig settings even when you import the file into a different session or share it with friends. Even if you have a full session with several different guitar parts and sounds, you can easily share it with another player and all available rig settings will be ready to recall.

I know I’ve wanted to go back and re-record certain parts, and matching the sounds and levels is always difficult (making sure the amp was set the same way, the mic setup the same). Recording with Eleven Rack eliminates the worry, since you know you can always re-create the same guitar sound, even if you haven’t saved the settings as a separate rig.

How exactly does this work?

Pull up the Eleven Rack Control window in Pro Tools by choosing Eleven Rack in the Window menu. Take a look at the User Options pane and find the Embed Settings From popup menu. This shows the current inputs available for recording. When you’re using Eleven Rack as your main audio interface, Eleven Rig L/R will show up here as the default. If you’re using a different interface like a Pro Tools HD system or a 003 Rack, then you should choose the input where you’ve connected your Eleven Rack (like a digital input connected to the Eleven Rack digital output). If you aren’t using Eleven Rack as your main interface, you’ll need to physically connect the Eleven Rack audio output (either digital or analog) to the input of your main interface.

With Eleven Rack as the main interface:

Embed Setting Menu PT LE

With another interface like a 192 I/O (Pro Tools|HD) or a 003 Rack:

Embed Setting Menu PT HD

 

Now, when you create an audio track, choose the same input source as the input you selected in the Embed Setting From menu. The Eleven Rack E logo small logo will appear in the input popup to indicate that the rig settings will be captured when you record a file on the track:

Track with embedded settings

 

After you stop recording, the newly recorded region will also show the Eleven Rack E logo small logo in the upper right corner, which indicates the rig settings have been captured:

Region With Embedded Rig Settings

 

Note that it doesn’t make much sense to capture settings from inputs that aren’t using the Eleven Rack rig, such as the dry guitar or mic signals. Although you’re able to embed rig data no matter which input you choose, the purpose is to record the “wet” recorded files so you can recall the settings used to create the sounds.

How do I retrieve the embedded rig settings?

You can reload rig settings from any audio region that has the Eleven Rack E logo small logo. There are a few different ways to retrieve the rig settings. First, you can select the region directly in the Edit window. Right-click the region to get a pop-up menu and choose Load Guitar Rig Settings.

Load Rig Settings Popup 

The saved rig will load into your Eleven Rack, and then you’re ready to rock. The name of the region will be used as the name of the new rig, so this is what you will see when you load the embedded setting.

Eleven Rack unit showing GuitarSolo Rig

Remember this setting is not saved anywhere except in the audio file unless you choose to save it inside Eleven Rack or as a separate settings file on your computer.

 

Alternately, you can load embedded settings by right-clicking on a region from the region bin. Regions with embedded settings will also show the Eleven Rack E logo small logo next to them:

Load Eleven Rack Rig Settings From Region Bin

Third, you can also retrieve rig settings via the Eleven Rack Control window. When you click on the Rig Settings menu, you will see a list of regions in your session that contain embedded rig data:

 

Load Settings From Guitar Window

Rig settings require minimal extra data, so you don't need to worry about using up too much disk space. Just record away and capture your settings!

Some Limitations

  • If you export the audio file to a format other than AIFF or WAV, the rig settings data will not be retained. If you export a stereo/multichannel file, then you will only retain the embedded settings on the left/first channel file.
  • If you apply AudioSuite processing, the file will not retain the embedded settings data.
  • Performing a Consolidate Region function will only retain the settings from the first file in the set of regions (leftmost on the timeline). If the first file in the set doesn’t have embedded settings (or is a fade file) then the resulting region will not have any embedded settings.
  • If you change settings during a record pass, only the last state of the rig is saved when you stop recording (we take a snapshot of the rig settings when the record pass is stopped).

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About tobydunn

I am the engineering manager for guitar products at Avid. I've been working on Pro Tools hardware and software for 18 years and I still enjoy recording and playing guitar. My live rig now consists of Eleven Rack into a Marshall Jubilee 25/50 and a Marshall cab I bought in 1985.

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