Tips for Audio File Management
I just wanted to touch on a very, very important point now that we’re almost exclusively working in the lovely, wonderful world of digital.
Back in ye olden days of when I was a kid and we used to record everything on tape, the only thing you really had to do was take that one tape, and then make a duplicate copy of it.
You know, the restriction of only having 24 tracks, or one reel of two-inch tape, it was quite simple to be able to archive and keep a good backup of your tape.
But now, we’re in the wonderful world of digital, which is incredible. It’s opened so many amazing doors for us. We can do wonderful things. We can have a multitude of tracks.
Now, the problem with having a multitude of tracks is the storage. Suddenly, we’ve got maybe up to 192 digital tracks in our DAW, and then all of the multiple takes that exist. Enormous amount of information in a single session, and we have to really be prepared to figure out how to manage those files so there’s no issues.
So what I’d like to talk about is that.
Now, this is so you’ve recording — you’re recording your session. I think the most important thing in working in digital is where you record to. There’s two things you should know. Firstly, make sure you have — you record to an external hard drive, not the internal hard drive.
If you record to the internal hard drive, you face a couple of problems. Firstly, if it’s a tower, where are you going to take that? If you want to go to somebody else’s place to record, you’re going to have to take that information and put it onto an external hard drive anyway. It reduces the flexibility.
So the first thing I always do is have an external hard drive that you can record on.
Secondly, make sure you have a backup of the external hard drive. So let’s just say you call one, “Music 1.” Have a Music 1 backup. So what you can do is you can record into that, and then drag and drop your first session, and put it over to your Music 1 backup drive.
Now, there’s quite a few pieces of software on the market that allow you to keep those hard drives mirrored at all times. I personally prefer Synchronizer Pro X. That is one that I use, one a lot of my friends use, and a lot of studios I work at use.
What is great about that is you can set your drives to be synchronized, mirrored copies of each other. So every time you record onto one of those two drives, afterwards, you’ll take the drives, you’ll stick them into the software, and it will analyze and tell you what is missing from one or the other of the drives.
So no matter whether you’ve recorded onto Music 1 or Music 1 backup, it will say there’s a file or two or a thousand or whatever files missing, and it will then copy them over.
It’s important to never delete. Don’t delete anything off of it, because you don’t know what you’re deleting. It’s really important that you do that, because in this wonderful world of digital, if a drive goes down, you’re kind of — you know, and you’ve only got it in one place, you can ruin months of work, and I have seen it happen with many, many artists and bands when they haven’t backed up, and they’ve had problems with a hard drive.
Now, there are recovery places that will recover information, but it’s very difficult. I’ve had to do it myself. I don’t recommend it, and there’s no guarantee of success. So always have a backup.
Personally, I like to have it in multiple places. Even more than two. But two minimum.
Secondly, and probably as important as backing up your stuff, and another really important part of file management is making sure that when you’re recording, you name the tracks.
So let’s just say you’re recording a band, and you’ve got a drum kit, let’s say five mics. Kick, snare, overheads, mono room mic, whatever. You’ve got five mics on your drum kit.
Make sure that when you create a track, you label it as well as you can. You know, at least say kick. If you want sometimes, some people will put kick and then the name of the song, and the reason why I say this, if you don’t do that, that track will just be called audio, and there is nothing worse than opening up a session two months after you’ve recorded, and you’ve got 142 tracks, all called Audio 1, Audio 2, Audio 3, Audio 4, and it’s now a couple of weeks or a couple of months later, and you’re sitting there, and you’re soloing every track to try and remember what it is.
So good file management makes your life easier and just as important, it will make other people’s lives easier if you’re sharing your files with other musicians, other producers, other engineers, or other mixers, because they will have to do the same thing. They’ll have to sit there and sift through things.
Now, I personally, after I’ve recorded a session, and I’m happy with it, I’ve finished all my editing, I’ve put my fades in, etcetera, I like to consolidate the files. This does a couple of things. Firstly and most importantly, it creates a solid, consistent file with no edits, no fade files, etcetera in it, of say, just the kick, just the snare, just the overhead left, just the overhead right, the bass guitar, the guitar, the vocal.
Then, what I can do is I can then take that session and duplicate it without all of the other playlists, without all of the edits, just the clean files themselves. For me, professionally, that really helps. If I want to share that with another mixer, or another — you know, somebody else is maybe recording the vocal, re-recording the vocal in Sweden or something, I can send them that session, and they can work on it without opening up some massive session with all of the alternate takes, and that could be 20 gigs. Instead, I’m sending a session which might be 700 megabytes or a gigabyte with just the final files in it.
So it’s not just for yourself and your ease of operating and moving around, it’s for the ability to share with other people. Good file management, naming your audio files, and then making sure that everything is backed up into at least two places will make your life so much easier.
If you have any questions about that, please, hit me with some comments down below. You know, there’s a lot to take in, and there’s probably a lot of other stuff to talk about. There’s not a lot of people talking about this on YouTube, so I think this is really important that we have this discussion. Organization doesn’t just help other people work on your sessions, it helps you be organized and go through and work effectively yourself.
So once again, please hit me with any comments. I’d love to continue this discussion, and give me some of your experiences, and maybe there are some tips that you have that help make your life easy as well.
So thank you very much for watching.