Getting Started With Multi-Tracks
Multi-tracks. It’s a word that makes some musicians cringe, and makes others go absolutely crazy. However, many people still aren’t sure what Multi-tracks are and even more don’t have any idea how they are properly used in a worship service. Today, I want to do my best to answer the most common questions I see about Multi-tracks and their use in the church.
What Are Multi-Tracks?
Multi-tracks are essentially backing tracks that your church’s band can play along with. This allows you to supplement musicians that you don’t have. If you have a drummer that gets unexpectedly sick on a Sunday, just pull in the drum track on your multitrack session. Also, if you’re in a smaller church multi-tracks can be a great option when you’re building a band. If you don’t have an electric guitar player, but still want to have a full sound, Multi-tracks are a great option as well. Larger churches even use multi-tracks as extra musicians, even though they still have a full band on stage. This allows for extra parts to be recorded and used in a live setting.
What Do I Need for Multi-Tracks?
Where Do I Get Multi-Tracks?
Step 1 is to purchase multi-tracks from a provider. The two most popular are loopcommunity.com and multitracks.com. Both of these websites offer multi-tracks for most popular worship songs, but they have two completely different business models.
Loop Community is a community of independent creators that produce multi-tracks and sell them on the Loop Community platform. Loop Community offers a variety of quality tracks ranging from $15 a track to $30+ a track. Community tracks are the cheapest, and these are produced by verified members of the community. Premium tracks are created by sellers that produce especially great tracks and Loop Community gives them a premium rating, and a higher price point. There are also Loop Community tracks that are created by Loop Community’s team of producers, and finally there are master tracks that are the original files from the original artist. Loop Community’s wide selection of tracks and different price points make this a suitable choice for people that want multi-tracks on a budget.
Multitracks.com sells only the highest quality multi-tracks. All of the files sold by multitracks.com are original mastered files from the original artists. Because of this most tracks sell for $35-$40 on multitracks.com, but the price is well worth it. All of the tracks are always super high quality, and they make your church band sound exactly like the band playing on the album. The premium nature of multitracks.com makes them the best choice for churches that want quality, and don’t have to worry so much about price.
What Software is Required?
After you have purchased your tracks from either Loop Community or Multitracks.com you will need some sort of application to host your multitrack files. Both Loop Community and Multitracks.com offer free applications for iOS that will host your tracks. You can also host your tracks in a DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) of your choice. The most popular DAW for live application is Ableton Live, but other churches have been known to host tracks in Apple’s Logic Pro X and Avid’s Pro Tools with great success. The free apps and the DAWs do pretty much the same thing, the only true benefit of using a DAW versus one of the iOS apps is the easy integration with MIDI to automate certain elements in your service. We will be producing a video series on YouTube to go further in depth on this topic.
What Hardware is Required?
A simple multitrack setup really doesn’t require much hardware at all. The first piece of equipment you will need is some sort of in-ear monitor solution. This doesn’t have to be something fancy like an Aviom system, it can simply be a headphone amplifier connected to an aux out on your mixer. You don’t even need a digital mixer to have an IEM system.
The second piece of hardware you need is a Stereo Breakout Cable. This will go from the headphone output on your iOS device, or computer, and connect to either 2 Mono DI Boxes, or 1 Stereo DI Box. The left channel will be devoted to Click & Cues and should be routed to your IEM system. The left channel shouldn’t be routed to the mains. The right channel will be the rest of your tracks. These should be routed to the mains, as well as the IEM system so your musicians can hear the tracks.
There are other, more complicated, solutions to use multi-tracks as well but this is the most basic setup for you to use and this setup works for most small applications.
Advanced Multi-Tracks Applications
For a more advanced setup you can replace your patch cable and DI boxes with a Digital Audio Interface. The use of a Digital Audio Interface allows you to have multiple outputs for tracks instead of just 2. The Loop Community Track Rig is a perfect example of an Audio Interface to use in this application. Track Rig provides 8 analog outputs that can be used for your multi-tracks. This means that you can have each instrument routed to a different channel instead of all instruments coming through just one channel.
You can also use Dante Virtual Soundcard as a way to connect your multi-tracks to your sound board if you are using a Dante network. This allows up to 64 digital outputs which are sent over a standard ethernet cable.
Multi-tracks are a great solution for many churches wether they are big or small. There are plenty of options surrounding multi-tracks that make them affordable for most churches. The setup is relatively simple and requires little hardware to get up and running. The largest benefit of a multi-tracks setup is the scalability and the ability to possibly automate service elements with MIDI. If your church hasn’t tried multi-tracks yet, I strongly suggest you give them a shot.
If you have any questions feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or fill out the contact form on the Contact Us page. Also, listen to our podcast episode over this same topic to hear us go more into detail on the subject. Finally, subscribe to Worship Innovation on YouTube to check out our upcoming Multi-tracks video series!