Punching In and Out in Your Home Recordings - dummies

By Jeff Strong

Punching in and out in your home recordings refers to being able to overdub a section of a performance while keeping the part of the performance that you like. Punching in and out can be pretty simple: Play the track and press the Record button when you want to start. Then press the Stop button when you’re done. At least that’s how it used to be done.

With a digital recorder, you can set up the system to punch in and out a number of ways. You can punch in and out manually either by using a nimble finger to punch buttons or by using a foot switch.

You can also program the recorder to punch in and out automatically. If you go the automatic route, you usually set up your system to punch in and out once, but in some cases, you may want to rerecord over the same part of the song a certain number of times — a process known as loop recording.

Manual punching

Manual punching in and out is exactly what it sounds like: You manually press the Record button when it’s time to start the punch, and you manually press the Stop button when you’re done.

This is the type of punch you do if you have enough time between when you press the Record button and when you need to start playing, as well as when you stop playing the part and when you can get to the Stop button. You may also do manual punching if you’re acting as the engineer and someone else plays the instrument.

Punching with a foot switch

On most recorders, you can use a foot switch to punch in and out. This frees your hands so that you can play your instrument while you do the actual punching in and out.

Automatic punching

Automatic punching in and out is one of the many gifts from the digital recording gods. This process allows you to fully concentrate on getting your part right without having to worry about getting the punch right. With automatic punching, you can replace very small passages or get into really tight places with your punch.

For example, suppose you have one bad snare drum hit that you want to replace. With automatic punch in/out, you can set it to start recording right before that bad note and stop immediately after it, leaving the rest of the notes untouched.

Even though each recorder is a little different in its autopunch procedure, all recorders follow these basic steps:

  1. Select the track you want to punch in and out of.

  2. Arm the track by pressing the Select button until you get the red blinking light.

  3. Locate the punch-in point on your recorder.

    You do this either by playing the song until you get to the point that you want to punch in or by keying in the numbers for that section of the song.

  4. Press the In Point (punch in) button on your recorder.

  5. Locate the punch-out point on your recorder.

    You do this either by playing the song until you get to the point that you want to punch out or by keying in the numbers for that section of the song.

  6. Press the Out Point (punch out) button on your recorder.

  7. Press the Auto-Punch button on your recorder.

  8. Rewind the recorder to just before the punch-in point.

  9. Press the Record button followed by the Play button.

    Some recorders don’t require you to press the Record button first.

  10. Play your part.

When you’re done, your newly recorded part is neatly placed in the song.

Repeated punching (looping)

If you have a tricky part to record and you know it’ll take you a few tries to get it right, you can use the repeated punching (also called loop recording) function.

During the repeated punching procedure, the recorder keeps repeating the section within the loop until you press the Stop key, so you can try recording your part as many times as you want without having to set up the punch in and out procedure again.

This procedure uses the same basic steps as the automatic punch in/out procedure, except that you also need to choose the section of the song that the recorder plays before and after the actual punch times (called the loop start and loop end points). For some systems, you can do this the following way:

  1. Locate the place where you want to start the loop on your recorder.

  2. Press the Locator button.

    This stores the location point you chose in Step 1.

  3. Locate the place where you want the loop to end.

  4. Press another Locator button to store this value.

  5. Press and hold the Loop button.

  6. While still holding the Loop button, press the Locator button that you used to store the loop start point (Step 2).

  7. While still holding the Loop button, press the Locator button that you used to store the loop end point (Step 4).

  8. Follow the steps for the automatic punch in/out.