The Track Panel is analogous to a physical mixer. It is the low-level nerve center of ALK. Low-level, because it ignores everything that has to do with time. In particular, a mixer has no knowledge of a sequence or loops — it simply combines a bunch of raw audio or MIDI signals with each other and spits them back to its outputs.
Every track in ALK has its own virtual mixer, with its own view of the physical inputs and outputs. It can be located inside each track’s Track Panel.
The track panel has the following items (in the order of signal flow, from input to output).
This is a list of the current inputs to the track. These can be physical inputs, such as an audio interface channels and MIDI keyboards, or Track inputs which feed from the output of other tracks in the session (ie: a Master track which takes its inputs from many individual tracks). We call these connections cables in ALK.
MIDI Effects (Instrument and MIDI tracks only)¶
We’ve included two useful MIDI effects right in the track panel. They are Quantize and Note Repeat. Quantize effectively shifts any out-of-time notes into time. A drop down menu allows the user to choose the resolution of quantization. For example: choosing 1/16 results in recorded notes playing back aligned to the nearest 16th note. The rotary control is used to control the amount of quantization. This decides by how much notes are shifted to the chosen quantize resolution. Setting a quantization amount lower than 100% is favourable to some as it results in a more human and less rigid correction of note timing. Note Repeat essentially translates held MIDI notes into a stream of repeated notes. A drop down menu allows the user to choose the resolution of these notes. For example, choosing 1/8 results in held notes transforming into a stream of 8th notes. The rotary control here determines the amount of swing in the repeated notes.
Instrument (Instrument Track only)¶
Here you can insert your VST or AU instrument of choice. Clicking on the Instrument will open it in a new window where you can view the user interface and edit parameters and fine tune your sound. We’ve also included two handy utility instruments: Test Note and Metronome.
Test Note and Metronome do not have a plugin editor, so unlike unlike other VSTs and AU plugins, clicking on the label has no effect.
Here you can insert VST or AudioUnit effect plugins to process the audio input (Audio track), Instrument audio (Instrument track) or MIDI data (MIDI track) of your track. Clicking on the insert effect opens its user interface in a new window where you can edit parameters and fine tune the effect. Inserts can be powered off (bypassed) using the power button. Bypassed inserts do not consume CPU: once bypassed, they no longer participate in the processing chain until they are re-enabled.
If you’re project gets large enough that it starts to stutter, finding CPU-hungry plugins, and bypassing them, can be a good way to fix the problem. Bypassing can also be useful to determine which plugins are responsible for high CPU use, simply by comparing the CPU use before and after bypassing.
Instrument and FX plugins can be copied, cut and pasted between tracks using commands C, X and V. FX plugins can be reordered by cutting and pasting a plugin to its desired position.
This is a list of the current outputs of the track. Again, these can be physical outputs such as those on your audio/MIDI interface or Track outputs which feed to the input of other tracks in the session.
This acts the same as pan controls on physical mixers, except that in addition to controlling the pan, it also displays the current pan amount. This is determined in real-time by comparing the levels on the left and right channels.
This acts the same as a typical volume slider and LED meter combination on a physical mixer.
A cable is roughly analogous to a physical cable. In other words, it serves to connect, say, an microphone input to the input of a track, or the output of a track to the submix track. However, unlike physical cables, or the connections in other sequencers, ALK’s cables have two differences:
- Cables in ALK have a volume knob between their ends. This means you can control the individual amount of signal flowing from the input to the output.
- Cables in ALK have a level meter built in, which allows the user to obtain visual feedback for the signal passing through the cable.
The level meter currently only works for audio tracks. This limitation will be removed in a future version of the program.
Cables come in two flavours: MIDI and Audio. You never have to choose the type of cable used: you simply connect the track to wherever you want, and the correct cable type is selected for you.
A cable is represented visually in ALK by an object in the appropriate input or output terminal. In the image below, Synth submix and Headphones Mix are both cables. The surrounding element labeled “Output” in the image, is the Terminal they belong to, which we will discuss next.
A terminal represents the input or output of the current Track. In ALK, a terminal can have more than one Cable attached to it. This means that every track in ALK can:
- act as a “mixer”, using multiple cables as inputs, and using the cable’s volume knobs as the “mixer’s” individual volume sliders;
- act as a signal “splitter”, directing the signal flowing through this track to other tracks or physical outputs;
- act as an FX track: this can be achieved by connecting the appropriate input cables to an audio track with your desired effect plugin inserted in the track FX;
You can add a cable to a terminal clicking on the Add (+) button at the top right corner of the the Terminal.
Currently, for VST and AU plugins, only a single mono/stereo terminal is allowed. In other words, while plugins like BFD are supported, you currently cannot use their extra outputs; only the main stereo output can be used by the program. This limitation will be removed in the future, which will also allow sidechaining. We apologize for the inconvenience!