What's the best way to play backing tracks live?

New Tricks

Platinum Member
I started with the SPD-SX for the ability to segment the tracks (verse, chorus, bridge etc.) and avoid train crashes when someone slipped off track. It worked but was a lot for me to keep track of.

I now play with better players who know their parts and can follow me for tempo. We now just run the tracks straight through via computer and everyone is able to pay attention and keep up. It's 100x easier and I can focus on playing the damn drums. All I have to do is get it started and stay with the click, which is easy if you don't have other players fighting with you.


Junior Member
The new app that SEBBMAN created looks like it could be a good solution, but I haven't tried it yet. For the past several years, I've been creating multitrack (.aiff) files in Audacity, and using iTunes on my MacBook Pro for playback. I've never had a problem. iTunes on a macbook is very stable.

Note: iTunes plays mp3 files AND QuickTime movies. mp3 files are limited to 2 channels (left,right). But, Quicktime files can have multiple tracks, for example Videos can have full surround audio. So, I convert my multitrack AIFF files into Quicktime Video files and load them into iTunes

The Process:

1) I create a 3-channel file using Audacity -- Channels 1 and 2 are stereo Left and Right, respectively; and Channel 3 is a mono Click Track. Then, I save the file in AIFF format (this preserves the multiple channels because mp3's only support 2 channels)

2) I Open the AIFF file using QuickTime Player v7 -- this puts the audio into a QuickTime movie container. Then, I go to Movie Properties, click on "sound track", then under Audio Settings; set Channel 1 to "Left", Channel 2 to "Right", and Channel 3 to to "Center Surround". Lastly, save the file. This will create a QuickTime movie file containing your 3-channel audio. That is, you've just created a QuickTime Movie file that only contains audio only -- no video.

3) Drag the movie file into iTunes and play it. Of course, you'll need an external audio interface connected to your mac to allow you to get the 3rd channel out to your speakers/headphones, etc.


Are in ear click tracks all that common with live drummers out of interest?
Most of the club and bar bands in Spokane and Seattle use tracks, because if the band is bigger than 3 or 4 people, there's no money to be made. Clubs don't pay more for a larger band, the pay per member is just less, so if the other 12 top acts are doing it, then so must you if you want to compete. Besides, it's a drag to play a song like "Rebel Yell" without the keyboard parts, rhythm guitar, etc.....

New Tricks

Platinum Member
Besides, it's a drag to play a song like "Rebel Yell" without the keyboard parts, rhythm guitar, etc.....
This, exactly^

In an ideal world, I'd be working with several talented players and play everything live.....but I'm not sitting around, waiting for a top tier keyboardist comes along. It makes sense to write/record and trigger the parts we can't currently cover and continue to build/rehearse our repertoire.