Maximizing Your Song's Signal Strength

In my last article, "Caustic for Android - Working with the Sequencer: Part IV", we added some effects and worked with the mixing board on our practice tune, 'mysong'.  In this article, we will add a few more effects, use the mixing board to maximize the signal strength, and prepare our song for export to a music file.


Bassline2 - funky

Startup Caustic, load the file 'mysong', and lets first change another instrument.  Bring up the BASSLINE2 screen, and change the preset to 'BOOTZEE', and then turn the volume dial to the 2 o'clock position.

Now let's go to the mixing screen and get the signal of the whole mix good and strong.  You want a strong signal so that when you play it back, you hear just your music, not your music plus some empty, airy hiss.  The better your signal strength leaving the mixer, the less you'll need to turn up the volume dial on whatever playback device you decide to use.  Think about what happens when you turn on the average radio, and with nothing playing back, you simply crank the volume up.  What do you hear?  -Noise inherent in the playback device itself.  You don't want to be hearing that when the device plays back your track.

Now the way I do this is simple, and appropriate for where we are in learning the software.  More advanced ways are by using compressor effects, but for now, let's do everything manually.

I typically start by maximizing the drum track first.  Start playback of your song 'mysong', put your headphones on (again, highly recommended), and turn the dial up on the BEATBOX volume dial (on the mixing screen).  Keep an eye on the signal meters, and try to not let it get into the red.  It's okay now and then if you bump into the yellow areas (let your ears be the decision makers).  Below you can see where I ended up with for dial positions on the BEATBOX instrument (channel 6).

Mixing board mixdown

Repeat this process for the channels 2 & 5 (PCMSYNTH1 & BASSLINE2).  When you are finished, work with the Master Volume dial and maximize the strength of the signal.  Keep in mind when you do this (for any of the channels) that you want the final mix to sound right too, meaning the volume of each instrument should be appropriate for what it is, how it might typically sound live, or how you want it to sound.

Exporting Your Song

Caustic song export

As shown above, open the 'SONG' screen in the settings menu.  First save your work, then press 'EXPORT...'

You'll need to decide what you intend to do with your file after you get it out of Caustic, so that you can select an appropriate file type.  Available selections are .WAV, .OGG, & .MID (Waveform, Ogg-Vorbis, and MIDI).

You can also select to export your entire song, or just a user-defined loop region.  For this article, we will export the whole song, and we will save it as a .OGG file.  Go ahead and match your screen to the one below:

Export Ogg-Vorbis Caustic

Press EXPORT, and note the location on your device where the file has been saved:

Export Ogg-Vorbis Caustic Location

From there you can do what you wish with your file.  If you can't play .OGG files, there are some great freeware software out there for converting the .OGG file into other formats.