HOWTO: Record from FastTrack USB using Steinberg Sequel 2

Recently reloaded my machine from scratch with Windows 7 Ultimate x64 edition. (Was originally running Windows XP x64) Upon re-installing Steinberg's Sequel 2 software, I realized that I had not kept track of all the little tips and tricks to get everything properly configured in Sequel 2. Sequel 2 is some powerful software, but the documentation is really horrible, and the software was originally written for Macs, so the user interface was defined for a Mac user with a single-button mouse, rather than a PC user with a 2+ button mouse. Regardless of how easy the Mac interface is supposed to be designed, I've always found it weird and counter-intuitive.(PC users "experiment" with their right mouse button to find out what options are available from a certain location on the screen - this always makes a little menu pop-up with additional options you can select from. Almost all PC software

Anyway, this is how I was able to record from my bass using an M-Audio FastTrack USB recording interface connected to my Sequel 2 PC.

One of the nice things about Windows 7 is that it has built-in support for the FastTrack, as well as most modern M-Audio products. (I've got the Fastrack, as well as a KeyRig 49 MIDI keyboard, and both devices were detected by Windows 7 x64 with no problems.)

There are three steps you need to go through to get everything working happily:


Step One: Configure the FastTrack driver

To bring up the properties of your FastTrack driver click on Start → Control Panel → M-Audio FastTrack

Illustration 1: FastTrack Latency Settings

Illustration 1: FastTrack Latency Settings

The one drag to recording via a USB connection is the long latency – a delay between when you play your instrument and when you start hearing it on the computer. It's a trade-off between quality and speed – the lower the latency, the lower the sound quality. However, most machines can handle a pretty low latency setting.

As shown in illustration 1, slide your sample rate all the way down to 128. Basically you start at the bottom, and if it sounds good, leave it there. Note that you wont hear anything until we get Sequel 2 set up in Step 3, so just remember to come back to this if your sound is noisy or popping.

Illustration 2: FastTrack Sample Rate Settings

Illustration 2: FastTrack Sample Rate Settings

You are probably going to be recording 24 bit audio, so go ahead and turn this up to sample at 48 Khz  


Step Two: Configure the ASIO driver

ASIO is a set of rules (aka: a protocol) for transferring audio data between software and audio devices. In this case it's used to transfer between Sequel 2 and the FastTrack. It also needs a bit of configuration.

Click your start button (Is that even what it's called these days? It doesn't say Start anymore.) and then type “asio” in the “search programs and files” textbox at the bottom of the Start menu. It should find two files starting with ASIO: ASIO DirectX Full Duplex Setup and ASIO Generic Lower Latency Driver Setup. (Or you can go to Programs → Sequel 2 in your start menu.)
 
Illustration 3: ASIO Direct Sound Full Duplex Setup

Illustration 3: ASIO Direct Sound Full Duplex Setup

First off, note that under the Direct Sound Input Ports section (Make sure you're looking in INPUT – the bottom section, not OUTPUT.), the FastTrack probably isn't even checked. This is the main reason that Sequel 2 hasn't been able to find your FastTrack!!

As you see in the the Direct Sound Output Ports section in Illustration 3, I have everything unchecked except my speakers. That's just for my setup where I have the sound output from my computer going to monitors directly.

 Step Three: Configure Sequel 2

  1. Open Sequel 2 (Make sure your FastTrack is connected and on before starting Sequel, which annoying only checks the device list when it first starts up. Plug in anything else after and you have to close down Sequel and then start it again. At least you don't have to reboot...)
  2. Click on the “Add New Track” button


    Illustration 4: Location of the Add New Track button

    Illustration 4: Location of the Add New Track button

  3. When the Add New Track dialog box shows, make sure Audio is selected, and then pick the track named “empty”. (You can hit OK to select it, or just double-click on “empty”.) 

    Illustration 5: The Add New Track dialog

    Illustration 5: The Add New Track dialog

  4. You should now have an empty track named “Audio 01”

    Illustration 6: New Empty Track
    Illustration 6: New Empty Track

  5. Go to the Track Height Selector and click the tallest icon
    Illustration 7: Track Height Selector
    Illustration 7: Track Height Selector

  6. Now you can see the input device selector for your new track, currently set to “Stereo In”
    Illustration 8: Input Device Selector
    Illustration 8: Input Device Selector

  7. Clicking on “Stereo In” will bring up a list of the input devices available. Select “FastTrack Fa... ” from the list (The window isn't big enough to show the full name, and since it's a pop-up menu, I can't screenshot it.) But wait, there's TWO of them in the list. Which should I pick? The selection ending in “-1” is the SLR Input Jack of your FastTrack, the other one ending in “-2” is the ¼ inch guitar jack. Your selection is easy, based on which jack you want to record from.
  8. The last thing to do is test it – strum your guitar, or hum into your mic, or pump your foos-ganger, and you should see the signal meter of your new track move up and down.
    Illustration 9: Signal Meter
    Illustration 9: Signal Meter

 


That's how I got it to work. I'm in no way an expert or even all that experienced with Sequel 2 or the FastTrack USB interface, but thought I'd post what I did to get it to work. So if something here looks wrong, or you have a better suggestion, please reply with your input!

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