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  1. #1
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    Default Channels and Tracks

    Good day,

    Though maybe a moot point to some, a comprehensive understanding of a "thing" is crucial to learning that "thing". At least to me anyhow.

    So, in a discussion with someone earlier today, they we asking the question, "What is the difference between a track and a channel?" - and, I must admit that at first I found myself unable to directly answer that question. In short, I was dumbfounded!

    An Internet search really did not provide an immediate answer to this question either.

    So, I thought that I would "reach out" to the RML community in an attempt to obtain an answer to this question - first providing what I believe to a possible response to that question.

    The question: "What is the difference between a track and a channel?"

    Possible answers:
    A track is for horses and channels are for boats...or...
    Tracks are for race cars and channels are for TV...now really...

    A track is akin to an element on a tape recorder and a channel is akin to an element on a mixing console.
    * So, an input source to a channel on a mixing console to a track on a tape recorder to the output.

    Would the latter be a satisfactory response to the question?

    Thanks for the assistance.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Channels and Tracks

    That's pretty much how I differentiate when discussing multitrack issues...
    tracks are the recordings and channels are where the tracks reside in the visual layout.

  3. #3
    Join Date
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    Default Re: Channels and Tracks

    I also think of it in an analog mixer/tape deck fashion. A channel is a mixer row, a track is what is recorded on one of the tape deck inputs. It just happens in SAW that these two things are tied together with the same numbers.
    Last edited by MMP; 07-14-2021 at 01:08 PM.
    Michael McInnis Productions

  4. #4

    Default Re: Channels and Tracks

    I would define a track as something that is (or more the place that contains it), and a channel is where something happens (a flow path).

    The SawStudio answer for me is that the various mixer views are comprised of channels.

    The portion of the multitrack view that contains regions are tracks.

    Keep in mind that we are working in a virtual environment, so the lines of what is what and where get a little blurred.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Channels and Tracks

    Pretty much the same mindset here.

    Tracks are where audio is recorded to and from where playback originates. Tracks are on a recorder. Whether that's using tape or virtually, e.g. SAW's MultiTrack is the "medium" for its built-in digital software recorder. Each discrete recording is on a discrete track.

    Sound travels through channels. Like on mixing console, physical or virtual (à la SAW's mixer) or on the inputs and outputs of a tape recorder, physical or—well there's really no analogue (see what I did there?) in the virtual world, is there? At least not with SAW. SAW's mixer directly feeds the track so of the MultiTrack. Well, okay, I guess you could talk about input and output "channels" assigned in the MultTrack, which can map from/to either physical or virtual signals.

    I don't see a blurring of the distinctions; I see more of "sometimes the analogy doesn't quite carry over to virtual" happening, where some bits go missing, like pre- or line-amplifier electronics and physical ports (connectors).
    Dave "it aint the heat, it's the humidity" Labrecque
    Becket, Massachusetts

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Channels and Tracks

    Tracks reside in the sequencer and channels are in the mixer, when you are talking about studio recording.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Channels and Tracks

    I haven't contemplated this at any depth, but I guess I think of tracks as individual input parts of a recording project and channels as the result. So, the lead guitar track ends up as part of a stereo output with left and right channels. Or a TV or movie soundtrack includes dialog tracks, music tracks, sfx tracks, and ambient tracks that become part of L, R, C, and surround channels.

    Maybe a simpler way to say it is: input tracks are mixed to form the channels of an output.

    Maybe. [shrug]
    Ian Alexander
    VO Talent/Audio Producer
    www.IanAlexander.com

  8. #8

    Default Re: Channels and Tracks

    Quote Originally Posted by Ian Alexander View Post
    I haven't contemplated this at any depth, but I guess I think of tracks as individual input parts of a recording project and channels as the result. So, the lead guitar track ends up as part of a stereo output with left and right channels. Or a TV or movie soundtrack includes dialog tracks, music tracks, sfx tracks, and ambient tracks that become part of L, R, C, and surround channels.

    Maybe a simpler way to say it is: input tracks are mixed to form the channels of an output.

    Maybe. [shrug]
    Do you have any thoughts regarding input channels, Mr. Alexander?
    Dave "it aint the heat, it's the humidity" Labrecque
    Becket, Massachusetts

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Channels and Tracks

    Good day,

    Without going too far south, I believe that before a digital thing can exist that an analogue thing must exist first.

    As a result, the input source is assigned to an input on a mixing console which is is assigned to a track on an analogue tape recorder and which is is assigned to an output source.
    • What really triggered this analogy was the third of the 1974 photos of Bob's "The Early Years".
    • So channels are for the sources and tracks are for recording of those sources.

    I do hope that this all makes sense?

  10. #10

    Default Re: Channels and Tracks

    Quote Originally Posted by mr_es335 View Post
    Good day,

    Without going too far south, I believe that before a digital thing can exist that an analogue thing must exist first.
    Unless the universe is fundamentally digital (as has been proposed).
    Dave "it aint the heat, it's the humidity" Labrecque
    Becket, Massachusetts

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