Either you’ve dealt with it or you haven’t.

That dreaded “tick…tick…tick…”

Rewind a bit.

When recording music, it’s pretty typical to use a click track, or metronome track, to establish the tempo for the song.

For lazy folks like me (who don’t take the time to find a cool-sounding “click” sound), the click track sounds like a very loud and obnoxious computerized “ticking” sound.

I’m used to it. Doesn’t bother me anymore.

But…it DOES bother me when that cute little ticking sound decides to bleed out of the headphones and into the microphone.

It’s especially annoying when I’m recording acoustic guitar. I get to the final chord of the song, and I let it ring out. Everything is sounding glorious.

But when I listen back to the recording, I can hear the “tick…tick…” of the click track…IN my guitar recording.

Bleh.

And to make matters worse, you really can’t remove it from the recording.

There are, however, a couple solutions:

1. Re-record the final chord of the song with the click turned off. Simple enough, right? Just let that chord ring out, then edit it to the proper place at the end of the song. It takes a little extra time, but it works.

2. Turn the click down in the headphones. This CAN work, but if it’s so low that it affects the musician’s timing, then that’s no bueno.

3. Use automation of some sort to turn down or mute the click at the end of the song. (I actually made a video on this a while back.)

These are the solutions I’ve been resorting to for years…until recently.

Because I’ve been playing out live more, I have a nice set of earbuds, or in-ear monitors, that I use.

Historically, I’ve never used them in the studio. But recently I tried them out just to see if it would make any noticeable difference.

And it did.

Boy did it.

Rather than having to go through one of the options above, I literally don’t have to do ANYTHING.

I play the part, let the final chord ring out, and move on to the next thing.

As you can imagine, if you’re recording two acoustic parts on 12 songs, that’s 24 times you’ve got to record that extra ending, then edit it back in the right place to get rid of click bleed.

With my in-ears, I save a bunch of time.

If click bleed is a big issue in your studio, think about getting a set of earbuds that go in your ears. The chances of bleed are much lower, and you might discover (like me) that it’s kinda fun to record without the big headphones. 🙂

This may seem like a small little tip, but it’s one of a thousand different things you can do to help you (you guessed it) get it right at the source.

The more time you spend making the source sound perfect, the less time you have to spend “fixing” them with tools like EQ.

That doesn’t mean you won’t still need to use EQ during mixing, but when the tracks sound awesome, EQ becomes a lot more fun.

If you’re tracks are sounding great, but your EQ-ing skills could use some attention, check out:

www.UnderstandingEQ.com

  • Phillip

    If you’re not using a PCM ‘blip’ sound, I’ve had luck suppressing the click by printing it to another mono track, flipping the phase 180º and mixing it in until it all but disappears. You may have to scoot it up or back a few samples depending on how far away the microphone was from the headphones at the time.

    • I’ve never played around with all that phase stuff. I’d rather just get rid of the bleed from the beginning, but cool idea!

  • Drawmer

    For a cheapo solution, you can use iPod earbuds. Just put a pair of $10 lawn-mowing style earmuff thingy’s overtop. 😛

  • Andrew Bauserman

    Joe –

    Great suggestion. And IEMs are getting more common with live bands — even singers 🙂

    For those who prefer cans, the Direct Sound EX-29 provide 29dB of isolation.
       http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/EX29/
    At my day job they block out distraction, at the FoH mix console they help me hear one part over the live sound, and before he got IEMs they were our drummer’s choice.

    The EX-29 do equally well at keeping outside sound from getting in, or keeping the click track from getting out. If you don’t have IEMs, or need something that can be easily shared between players, they’re a good option.


    Andrew

    • I know a lot of drummers who LOVE those. Thanks Andrew!

  • Downstudio

    Great tip Joe
    I have a good set of Sony in ears that I use for monitoring with my band as I sing and drum so conventional monitoring has to be too load and then feeds back into my sm57 vocal mic.
    I normally use the largest size buds live as it stops a noise cancelling and thus has a better feel playing live at gigs.
    I then use the same in ears, but with a smaller bud in the studio to track vocals especially as this then means I can have the click or reference tracks as loud as I like and no bleed happens on the vocal track due to the bud being deeper in the ear canal.

  • Ummm the last time you were talking about click bleed in the headphones someone else suggested using ear buds…and you said that you don’t use such a thing in the studio..or something to that effect Joe. I’m sure you said that! haha 😉

    • In fact here’s the thead…!

      Joe Gilder Great idea, IF you have earbuds.
      Like Reply
      4 months ago in reply to Jeremy

      Jeremy if you can’t get earbuds, you probably can’t turn the lights on to record.
      Like Reply
      4 months ago in reply to Joe Gilder

      Joe Gilder Collapse Eh…earbuds
      aren’t on the top of my list. Regular headphones aren’t much of a
      problem for me, and most people are more comfortable with them,
      ESPECIALLY singers.

      So…you changed your mind on that one eh Joe? 😉

      • Downstudio

        I would agree with Joe if he was referencing the iPod shitty ones as there is no noise cancelling elliment at all to them as they don’t sit in the ear canal. You would then have to wear a pair of ear defenders over the top. Not a good look high vis, lime green. Lol

        •  But that will work though, using some earmuffs over the buds to enhance the isolation. 😉

          • I’ve done earmuffs over earbuds before. It’s actually really helpful for quickly figuring out mic placement, if you don’t have a lot of time to record a bunch of test tracks.

      • I still don’t use earbuds when I’m singing.

        •  Yeah, you wouldn’t need to as the SPL is higher when tracking vox than with an acoustic guitar.

    • 🙂 Like I said, this is something new I’m doing.