Now that we know what a Click Track is it’s time to explore the different ways to set them up and play them in a live church service. There are several effective ways to do this and will explore a few different methods in this post.
Creating a Click Track
The first step is to create a click track using a sequencing software, drum machine or keyboard. There are several different types of beat machines on the market made by Native Instruments (check out Maschine), Akai(check out the MPC) and other companies. There are also mobile apps by these same companies(check out iMaschine and iMPC) and others that are well capable of getting the job done. If those aren’t available to you then you can create them in computer applications like Fruity Loops, Reason, Logic Pro, Ableton Live, Studio One and others. If those softwares are not available to you then you could use your keyboard if it has a sequencer built in. If none of these options are available to you then check out our click tracks section of this site we have some Free Click Tracks as well as a few paid packs. Check out the videos at the bottom of this post to dig more into how to create a click track.
Setting Things Up
Now that you have created your tracks the decision now must be made on what you want to use to play them back in a live situation. This (like in the previous section) depends on what type of equipment or software you own or have access to. If you have created them on a Maschine or MPC then obviously you can use them for playback. But lately the trend has be leaning more towards using softwares like MainStage, Ableton Live, Logic Pro, Reaper, etc or mobile apps like iMaschine, iMPC, GarageBand, or many others to run the tracks live. Click on the links of any of those softwares above to see how to setup and run click tracks in those softwares. Once you have set things up then you are ready to run them live.
Running Click Tracks Live
So you’ve created the clicks and set them up to run so now what? How do you actually play them out in a live situation? This again like the other sections depend solely on what equipment you are using and or have access to. There are a million ways to set things up so I’m just going to cover a few basic scenarios in this section. A few key things you will need no matter what equipment you are using is a line output from whatever device you are using, a monitoring system such as an amplifier or headphones and a way to route your audio to your church PA system(or FOH).
If you are using a mobile device such as an iPhone or iPad to play your clicks then you can simply run a 1/8 inch(headphone jack sized) line out from your device’s headphone jack to your amplifier, headphone amp, or other output device(adaptor may be needed)check out the pics below to see the different types of cords you can use. Additionally, there are also several types of audio interfaces that will work with your iPhone or iPad but they might require different other cords or adapters to make them work(click here for search results on different types). Lastly, make sure you put your phone or device in airplane mode before using live to prevent any phone calls, texts or other notifications from playing out loud during church.
Computer or Laptop
If you are using a computer or laptop I suggest that you use an audio interface, but if you don’t have access to one then you can use the same method described for the mobile device using the headphone out jack on your computer. The purpose for using an audio interface is to give you more control over your audio before it gets to the output device(amp, monitor or headphones)and to give you more routing options as well. A good interface will have multiple outputs allowing you to send audio to your headphones, monitors and to the PA(FOH). Any audio interface will work because most come with at least 2 main outputs and a headphone jack. If you are just running click tracks only I don’t suggest anything more than that unless your church has a complicated routing configuration or you just want to use multiple output sources. There are literally a bazillion interfaces out there on the market so choose one based on your budget and routing needs. Most can be found cheap used on websites like craigslist, eBay, or Amazon. Lastly similar to the phone make sure you’ve turned off wifi and any other chimes or notifications that might play spontaneously during a service.
Keyboard or Drum Machine.
If you are using your keyboard or Drum machine then you can just use your regular outputs to play them out. Additionally you might want to take advantage of the headphone output on your unit to gain more routing options.
Once you’ve got those elements in place then the only thing left to do is press play and then troubleshoot to make sure everything is flowing properly. Additionally you may want to invest into a headphone amplifier or small mixer if you have other musicians playing with you so that they can hear the tracks as you are playing them out(especially the drummer) wether it be through headphones or an additional monitor close to them. In the end it all depends on what equipment you have access to and what your budget is. But no matter what that is it can all be done easily with the equipment you probably already have. Check out the videos below for more info on creating and running click tracks.