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Battery in ProTools

Getting your host DAW to recognize and accept extra audio channels
ProTools only uses Instrument Tracks for VST instruments. To get Battery 3 happening with those extra channels you still create a stereo Instrument Track and insert Battery 3 into it, then choose the eight channel kit - nothing has changed yet. However, because none of the cells have been assigned to the Master output of Battery 1 & 2 and this is the default setting for the ProTools Instrument Track you won't get any sound- don't panic! Everything's under control, we just haven't created a signal path for those Battery mono channels yet, which is what this article is all about.

You have to create eight mono Auxiliary Inputs and herein lays a simple, very important detail- they have to be mono. That may seem pretty obvious since we told Battery to use eight mono outputs, but this is the stumbling block for many users trying to do this task. We're so used to selecting stereo in many applications and letting the software figure things out and pairing off mono channels for us. Worse, if you try it with a Stereo Auxiliary Input the ProTools  message is rather cryptic and doesn't really explain what you're doing wrong.

Taking it step-by-step you should create the mono Auxiliary Input, call it Kick and when you select the Input you'll see in the drop-down box a choice of those Battery channels from M3 to M10.


Figure 3: A ProTools mono Auxiliary Input in the Mixer View with the choice of inputs displayed in a drop-down menu. The Battery 3 outputs are available.

 Choose M3 and voila!- you have a dedicated Kick drum channel. This is where, as I mentioned before, it's a shame you can't rename the Battery outputs. You have to rely on your notes or memory that M3 was the Kick output, M4 was the snare and so on.

Do this eight times for each Battery output and then I recommend you create a Stereo Auxiliary Input as a subgroup for these drum channels. It will let you add overall effects like compression to the whole drum kit and, of course, give you volume control on the drums, too.

Figure 4: The end result, what we all want. Individual drum channels just like you've miked up a real drum kit with a real, smelly drummer drinking all your beer when your back's turned. Routed to a Master drum buss, too. Note the original VST Instrument track is shown.

Native Instrument's Battery in particular appears to be the main culprit in confusing users how this is done, but other VSTs can offer multiple outputs. The key is creating Auxiliary Inputs to match the VST outputs. Stereo for stereo, mono for mono. And remember too that in many applications Outputs that are labeled 1 & 2 can be sacrosanct and reserved for main busses. You may often strike problems trying to configure anything else that is using these. If you get issues that don't make sense try renaming either the inputs or outputs (if you can) something unmistakably unique. Stay away from 1 & 2!


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