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Setting up DAW Templates

DAW Templates can be laborious and time consuming to set up, but will ultimately save you time in the long run. You can begin creating music immediately without the need to search for instruments or set up routing.

There are two types of template to consider:

  • A ‘base’ template with your bus and effect tracks pre-configured, but with an empty project window, ready for you to record audio and add software instruments ‘as you go’.
  • A ‘full’ template that has all of your instrument already loaded, routed and mixed, so you can begin composing immediately.

Either way is perfectly valid and only dependent on your individual workflow.

At the very least I’d make sure group tracks/busses are already configured, especially if you are likely to be exporting stems (which we’ll discuss in a later article).

Your DAW will probably influence your approach to templates.

Cubase – for example – has a ‘disable track’ feature, which allows you to ‘switch off’ a track, removing the instrument from RAM and CPU. It also has advanced visibility options, making it possible to hide tracks, or show specific tracks.

In this case it might be preferable to build a template with everything in it, but disabled and hidden, only showing and enabling instruments as you need them.

Studio One works using a ‘drag and drop’ paradigm, which lends itself to adding instrument as you compose. In this situation creating instrument presets could be a way you prefer to go. You can then drag a preset (or multiple presets) into the project window as you need them.‍

S1 Presets

Template Design Tips

  • Prepare Instrument Presets – Whether you prefer instruments preloaded into a template or not, it’s still worth taking advantage of presets in your DAW.
  • Prepare Plugin Presets – Do you regularly use particular plugins in your projects? Do you often use the same settings – such as EQ on a string section? Save them as presets, or take it a step further and insert plugins with the preset loaded and disable them. For example; load the strings EQ preset on the strings bus and bypass it.
  • Pre-Configure Routing – have all of your bus/group/FX tracks setup.
  • Pre-Configure Marker Tracks – Very useful for creating edits, which are discussed further later in this category.