As interfaces get cheaper and smaller, and more recording setups take on mobile roles, it’s not uncommon to find yourself mixing and matching your computer (desktop vs. laptop), DAW (Pro Tools, Live, Cubase, etc.), and your front end (interface or audio converter) in various combinations. I’ve even gone to aggregating two smaller interfaces rather than using a single, large, multi-input unit, as it gives me a similar experience whether I’m in a stripped-down mobile setting or a full-fledged studio.
But having multiple interfaces means you run the risk of launching your DAW—or a project within a DAW—without the right interface connected. This means that upon startup, you’ll be presented with an error screen that states the interface doesn’t match the DAW setup.
While this isn’t a serious error, it does waste time, and it can unsettle a client not used to seeing error screens. Plus, some DAWs—most notoriously Pro Tools—won’t accommodate a hot swap (with the DAW still running), and force you to quit the program and re-launch while you switch interfaces. That just looks bad. And strictly speaking, it’s an error that you as the producer could avoid.
If you run Cubase with an interface mismatch, you’ll be greeted with the following screen:
If you run Pro Tools, you’ll see this:
Other DAWs will throw up similar screens signaling mismatches. The easiest way to avoid this pesky problem is to simply create and name templates according to the interface you have hooked up at the time. This will save you from launching the wrong template and then re-mapping your ports, inputs, and outputs. So go ahead and create your software-based templates as you normally would (orchestral, rhythm section, songwriter, jazz trio, etc.) but be sure to add some code that’s meaningful, such as “orchestral.akaieie” or “drum&bass.octacapture.” Because whether it’s DAWs or air travel, we’re all looking for a smooth launch and no pilot errors.
Jon Chappell is a guitarist and the Senior Editor of Harmony Central He has contributed numerous musical pieces to film and TV, including Northern Exposure, Walker, Texas Ranger, All My Children, and the feature film Bleeding Hearts, directed by actor-dancer Gregory Hines. He is the author of The Recording Guitarist: A Guide for Home and Studio (Hal Leonard), Essential Scales & Modes (Backbeat Books), and Build Your Own PC Recording Studio (McGraw-Hill), and has written six books in the popular For Dummies series (Wiley Publishing).