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We know what you’re thinking … “I don’t wanna read this big ol’ manual now, I wanna rock!” (or thereabouts). Don’t worry, we’ve got ya covered. In this section, we’ll show how to play audio clips from Mixcraft’s huge included library, record audio and MIDI tracks, and add effects.

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LOAD AND PLAY AN AUDIO CLIP

To launch Mixcraft, double-click the Mixcraft 7 icon on the desktop. We’ll begin by dragging an audio clip of a bass line into the Main Window – that’s the big gray grid where clips of audio, MIDI, and video playback.

Click the Library tab at the bottom of the arrange window, then click the Sort By

pop-up menu and select Song Kit. You’ll see a list of song styles below; select 12-8 Blues. In the list of loops on the right, you’ll see Bass 12 Bars. Click and drag this to bar 1 of Audio Track in the empty gray grid beneath the word Start. While hovering a loop over the grid in the Track View window, you’ll notice two tiny white triangles; this is called the Caret.

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The Caret shows where clips will land when the mouse button is released. It also indicates where playback or recording will begin. Once you’ve dropped the audio into place, a dialog box will open and ask: “Use Best Sounding Project Tempo, Key & Time Signature?” We’ll explain exactly what this means later on, but for now, click Yes.

Once you’ve dropped a loop into the main grid, it creates a “Clip.” Clips are the rectan- gular audio, MIDI, or video “building blocks” in the main grid that make up a project.

The Main Grid window should look something like this:

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Click the green play arrow button in the transport section to hear the bass clip play; click a second time to stop playback, or press the space bar to start or stop playback.

If the clip begins playing somewhere in the middle, click the mouse near the number 1 in the timeline (the numbered line at the top of the Main Grid window). This will relocate the Caret, thereby changing the playback start.

Try dragging different types of loops into the Main Grid on separate audio tracks. Mixcraft will automatically match tempo and key signature, making it super easy to create music! If you run out of audio tracks, create more by clicking +Track>Insert Audio track at the top of the Track List.

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If you’d like a section to loop during playback, drag the mouse in the timeline at the top to create a purple highlight area, then click the Loop button in the transport area. The button will turn green to show that loop mode is active. Click it again to turn off looping. (Pressing the L button will also toggle looping.)

Jargon Alert: The “>” Sign

Throughout this manual, when you see something like

+Track>Insert Audio, the “>” sign usually refers to a sequence

of actions. Think about it as a shorthand way of us saying,

“click this>then this> then this.”

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RECORDING AN AUDIO TRACK

Select a blank audio track in the Track List at the left side of the screen. Existing blank audio tracks will already be named Audio Track and have a little speaker icon beneath the name (we told you this would be easy!). If there aren’t any blank audio tracks in the Track List, create new ones by clicking the +Track button at the top of the Track List and selecting Insert Audio Track.

Click on the audio track you’d like to record on; the track will highlight in green. Now choose the recording input source by clicking the down arrow to the right of the Arm button. Depending on your audio hardware, this list may appear differently, but the idea is to select the hardware input you’ll be plugging a mic or instrument into. In the example below, we’ve chosen the left channel (i.e. input 1) of a two-channel audio device.

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If you’re recording a mono signal, click the sound device followed by Left or Right depending on where you’ve plugged into the audio device. If you’re recording in stereo with simultaneous left and right inputs, select Stereo. Pay close attention to this setting, because it’s easy to accidentally record mono input sources (e.g., lead vocals, bass guitar, etc.) as a stereo file if you’ve set this incorrectly. It won’t hurt anything, but you’ll unnecessarily waste hard drive space.

After selecting the input, click the track’s Arm button. The Arm button will turn red, letting you know Mixcraft is ready to record. Now send some audio through the input to verify that the correct input was chosen. You should see the meters moving on- screen on the recording track.

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When a track is armed, the volume slider turns into a red recording input level adjuster. Move the slider to adjust the recording input level. If peaks send the meter into the red, back off the level. Ideally, the input signal should nominally sit in the green-to-yellow area.

Important Note: If you’re using an audio device with an ASIO driver (you can check in File>Preferences>Sound Device), the volume slider will disappear when the track is armed for recording. This is because ASIO recording drivers do not support input level adjustment in software. To set the proper recording input level, you’ll need to use either the input level on your audio hardware, or if it doesn’t have one, you’ll most likely want to set the recording level using the output level control on an external preamp or channel strip.

Important Note: If you’re using an audio device with an ASIO driver (you can check in File>Preferences>Sound Device), the volume slider will disappear when the track is armed for recording. This is because ASIO recording drivers do not support input level adjustment in software. To set the proper recording input level, you’ll need to use either the input level on your audio hardware, or if it doesn’t have one, you’ll most likely want to set the recording level using the output level control on an external preamp or channel strip.

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In order to record in time with a project’s tempo, you’ll most likely want to record with a metronome. To turn on the metronome, click the metronome button in the middle of the transport. It looks like, well, a metronome.

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Check the Recording box. This means the metronome will click during recording. Checking the Playback box makes it click during playback, but we can leave this off for now. If it’s not already checked, check the Recording Count-In Measures box. Upon pressing the Record button, this gives a “countdown” before recording begins. The number selector lets you choose the length of the countdown – 1 bar usually provides enough time. Hit OK when you’re done. Once you’ve configured the metronome,

you can quickly toggle it on and off by pressing the M key on the computer keyboard.

Almost there! Let Mixcraft know where to begin recording by positioning the Caret in the grid. This can be done by either clicking in the timeline at the top of the main window, or by clicking anywhere in the Main Grid. We recommend positioning the Caret on an exact number in the timeline (e.g., 1, 2, 3). Setting the Snap To setting at the top of the screen to Snap To Grid will simplify positioning the Caret.

Now it’s time to grab that microphone or guitar, and let it rip. If you want to monitor the recording source during recording, click the little speaker icon (left of the Mute button).

Here we go. click the red Record button in the transport (the one with the red dot), wait four clicks for recording to begin and record something! When you’re done, click the Record button again to stop (you’ll notice the red circle turns into a square

while recording), or just hit your computer’s space bar. It should look something like this:

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Congratulations, you’ve made your first Mixcraft audio recording!

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RECORDING A MIDI TRACK

Unlike an Audio Clip, which contains digital sound data, a MIDI Clip contains MIDI notes. Think of a MIDI Clips as a sort of computerized player piano ... a MIDI Clip primarily contains digital on/off messages saying, “hey computer instrument, play these notes at this time, wouldja?”

There are a number of ways to create MIDI clips, but the most common way is to plug in a USB MIDI controller keyboard, press the Record button, and tickle the ivories (plastics?). If you have a USB MIDI controller, plug it into an available USB port on your computer. If you don’t have a USB keyboard controller, you can input notes direct from the computer’s keyboard using Musical Typing. This can be toggled on and off by going to the View menu at the top and selecting Musical Typing, or by using the key shortcut CTRL+ALT+K. Musical typing uses the computer’s QWERTY keyboard to play musical notes. When activated, the layout shows the “mini music keyboard,” octave, transpose, velocity, and other relevant parameters:

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Now that we’re playing some kind of keyboard, we’ll select one of Mixcraft’s built-in Virtual Instruments. A Virtual Instrument is like having keyboard instrument that lives inside the computer. Handy, right?

First, create a new virtual instrument track. Click the +Track button at the top left, and select Insert Virtual Instrument Track. Now click the track’s piano keyboard icon. This opens a dialog box where instruments can be selected:

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We’ll go with our old friend “Acoustic Piano,” but feel free to scroll through the list and choose something saucy such as “Space Walk.” When you’ve made your selection, click on the red X in the upper right corner.

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Before we record a MIDI performance, let’s turn on Mixcraft’s metronome. This lets you play in time with the project’s tempo. To turn on the metronome, click the metronome button in the middle of the transport:

The dialog below opens:

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Check the Recording box. This means the metronome will click during recording. Checking the Playback box makes it click during playback, but we can leave this off for now. If it’s not already checked, check the Recording Count-In Measures box. Upon pressing the Record button, this gives a “countdown” before recording begins. The number selector lets you choose the length of the countdown. Unless your computer

There’s Already A Piano, Man

New MIDI Tracks default to an acoustic piano sound, so you really don’t need to select an instrument to play MIDI notes, but we thought you might want to know so you wouldn’t be stuck with all piano, all the time!

and MIDI keyboard are really far away from each other, choosing 1 bar should give you plenty of time to get those fingers poised. Hit OK when you’re done. Once you’ve

configured when the metronome plays, you can quickly toggle it on and off by pressing the M key on the computer keyboard.

We’re almost there! Let Mixcraft know where to begin recording by positioning the Caret in the grid. This can be done by either clicking in the timeline at the top of the main window, or by clicking anywhere in the Main Grid. We recommend positioning the Caret exactly on a number (e.g., 1, 2, 3). To simplify positioning the Caret, make sure Snap To Grid is selected in the Snap To menu at the top of the screen.

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Make sure the track is armed for recording – if it’s not red, click on it. Now click the red Record button in the transport (that’s the one with the red dot), wait four clicks for recording to begin, and lay down the rock. When you’re done, click the Record button again to stop (you’ll notice the red circle turns into a square while recording), or just hit your computer’s space bar. You should have something like this:

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To create more MIDI tracks, select empty tracks in the Track List on the left of the screen and add more instruments as described above.

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ADDING AN EFFECT TO AN AUDIO CLIP OR VIRTUAL INSTRUMENT TRACK

Mixcraft includes a large suite of real-time audio effects that can be applied to audio clips or virtual instruments. These are usually referred to as “plug-ins.”

To add a plug-in effect, click on an Audio Track or Virtual Instrument track (if it’s an audio track, make sure it has associated audio clips in the grid). Now click the track’s fx button.

The fx button will turn green and following dialog window opens. Click

<Select An Effect>. A drop-down menu will display a whole gaggle of effects; choose one that sounds fun. For this example, we’lI choose Acoustica Delay.

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At this point, you could just click the X in the top-right corner and be off on your delayin’ way, but most likely you’ll want to change the default settings. Mixcraft plug-ins include factory preset settings – to try out the factory preset settings, click on <Custom> in the Preset list.

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To create your own plug-in settings, click the Edit button to view a plug-in’s user interface.

This opens up the Acoustica Delay interface and lets you set its parameters to your liking. You can press the play button in the transport and hear the settings change in real-time. (We recommend using Loop Mode for more convenient previewing.)

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