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Home recording is more popular than ever, and with continued technological advances, the process has become very user-friendly.
With a laptop (or even a smartphone), a digital audio workstation (DAW) like Ableton, and an audio interface, such as the Focusrite Scarlett 18i20 that I use, if you play an instrument like guitar, you can begin your home recording journey.
Often, a metronome is necessary to help keep time while recording. However, the metronome is not something you want to hear on the final recording of your song.
So this raises the question how do you not record the metronome in Ableton?
The metronome’s recording option in Ableton is a convenient tool for musicians to ensure they remain on time. The metronome sound will not be recorded internally on Ableton, so you do not have to worry about hearing it on your track after you have finished recording.
Although the metronome will not be recorded on your tracks by default, there are certain situations when recording the metronome sound accidentally is possible. Below we will explore how this can occur, how to prevent it, and other valuable tips about how the metronome works in Ableton.
The Importance Of The Metronome
Before I explain how the metronome works in Ableton and how to use it while recording, it is important to understand just how vital a metronome can be.
A metronome-like apparatus was first invented in the 800s, with different variations afterward being produced, but, according to Charlene Kluegel, writing for the Guarneri Hall website, the metronome we know today was created in the 1800s and has been used by musicians ever since.
The metronome is one of the most vital tools a musician can utilize. Stubbornly, I refused to use a metronome early in my career as I thought I never needed one.
While I still do not typically use one on stage during live performances, I frequently use a metronome when I practice and almost always when I am recording. This is especially true in the early stages of the recording process when I am laying down the first few instrumental tracks.
Metronomes help keep musicians in time by producing an audible clicking sound, usually set in beats per minute (BPM). The video below explains BPM and illustrates how a musician can use a metronome during practice.
Now that you understand the importance of the metronome and how it can be used during a practice situation, let’s look at how it works in Ableton and how to avoid having the sound on your final tracks.
How The Metronome Works In Ableton
Like Ableton in general, operating the metronome is super easy and very user-friendly.
I am currently using Ableton Live 11 Standard. If you have an older or different version, you might not have all of the features I have in my version, but every Ableton version has a metronome.
The picture below shows where the metronome feature is located within Ableton, highlighted by the red circle. On my screen, you can see an orange color, indicating that the metronome is on. If it were off, the color would be gray.
The 120 number to the left indicates the BPM of the current project. The 4/4 is the time signature of the project. When you click on the arrow of the metronome option, it will expand, revealing various options.
The picture below shows the expanded options that you can use to set up the metronome exactly how you want it to be.
The metronome feature in Ableton allows you to set a count-in option before recording begins. It is very helpful if you are recording by yourself as it will enable you to click record and get into position before the recording starts.
As you can see, mine is set to a two-bar count-in, which is especially helpful if I have to maneuver behind my drum kit before recording begins.
You can also change the sound of the metronome and the rhythm, but for the most part, I leave these two settings on the default classic sound and auto rhythm.
The other cool feature is the Enable Only While Recording option. When this is set, the metronome will only be on when recording and off when you listen to what you have recorded on playback.
Lastly, when you change the view, you will see the headphones icon in the bottom right-hand corner, which controls the metronome’s volume but does not interfere with any other playback volume.
The picture below shows the view-toggle option and the metronome volume control circled in red.
How To Avoid Recording The Metronome In Ableton
You should now understand how important and beneficial the metronome is and how to use it in Ableton. However, as great as they are for recording purposes, you do not want to have the sound in your final tracks. Unless, of course, you are experimenting with some avant-garde concepts in your music production.
If you record MIDI directly in Ableton, you will never have to worry about accidentally recording the metronome. Even if the metronome sound is on when you are recording, it will not be on in the final version of your recordings when you export the song.
The metronome sound might be on when you listen to your recording in Ableton, but you can manually turn it off or simply enable the “Enable Only While Recording Feature” mentioned above.
If you plan to record live instruments, there is a chance you will accidentally capture the metronome sound on your final recordings, but this is very easy to avoid.
If you are recording a live instrument and want to avoid recording the metronome, all you need to do is make sure you are listening to the metronome with headphones on.
For example, say you are recording a guitar with a microphone running through your audio interface into Ableton. If you have speakers plugged in to hear the metronome, your microphone will also pick up the metronome sound coming from the speakers.
This is also true for any other sound coming out of the speakers, which is why you should use headphones to hear the metronome so then the microphone you are using to record will not record those unwanted sounds.
In the short video below, I explain how the metronome works and demonstrate how it will not record the metronome.
Using the metronome in Ableton and avoiding recording the sound is simple, which is great because using a metronome when you record is an incredibly valuable asset.
Until next time, best of luck with your recording adventures, and as always, stay creative!
Hi everyone! I have been involved with music most of my life, beginning in grade school with the trumpet. I am a largely self-taught multi-instrumentalist (drums, guitar, bass, and starting the piano and violin). I currently play drums in two bands and write and produce many genres of music in my home recording studio. I am also an avid guitar and drum collector.