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Controlling Input Levels Using Auxes in Pro Tools

By C. Steve | May 17, 2007

Did you know that when recording a track in Pro Tools LE, the only volume control available between your mic’s signal and the hard disk is the Input level knob on your interface?

That’s right… the only control you have to avoid clipping during record is the level knob on your Mbox or 002 (or 003). The fader attached to the audio track has no effect on the input signal — only on the playback signal. This fact becomes even more important if you own one of the new Digidesign Mbox 2 Mini interfaces, since there aren’t even clip lights on the front of that little sucker. You have to use the metering in the software to make sure your signal is clean.

There’s a workaround, of course. I’ve been using it for several years now, just as a safety feature. It’s called an Aux track. Here’s what you do:

Instead of recording directly on to an Audio track from Input 1, create an Aux track that will live just above the Audio track in your session file. Set the input of this audio track to Input 1 (or whatever the appropriate input number is), and set the output to a bus… say, Bus 1. Now set the input of the Audio track to Bus 1, and leave its output set to Output 1-2 (or whatever you use for monitoring).

The input signal from your mic will now go through the Aux track first, then across the Bus, and into the Audio track. The fader of Aux 1 will control the volume of your mic signal going to the Audio track, so it can be lowered or raised as appropriate.

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