You are here

Studio One: Using The Scratch Pad

PreSonus Studio One: Tips & Techniques By Robin Vincent
Published May 2024

Scratch Pads are accessed from this button in the toolbar. You can have as many as you want, and can duplicate existing ones to try variations on your variations.Scratch Pads are accessed from this button in the toolbar. You can have as many as you want, and can duplicate existing ones to try variations on your variations.

The Scratch Pad is your ticket to fast, easy, non‑destructive experimentation!

PreSonus introduced Scratch Pads to Studio One version 3, about eight years ago. They are an innovative form of version control, allowing you to experiment with different directions within a single project. In many other DAWs, you would have to scatter the timeline with little experiments as you rework a chorus, or your project folder would overflow from a stream of saved revisions with increasingly cryptic or desperate filenames. Scratch Pads let you experiment with your arrangement without losing sight of your work’s main thrust. They are also really easy to miss.

In this workshop, we’re going to get into the Scratch Pads. We’ll look at how they work and, perhaps more importantly, how you can use them to develop your music.

Scratch That

The biggest reason Scratch Pads exist is because we are messy and destructive beings and cannot be trusted to take good care of our compositions. As we develop our music and start working with ideas, we might find ourselves wanting to focus in on a section for experimentation. We don’t want to destroy what we’ve already created and so, normally, we have two options. We can copy the section to another part of the timeline, make our changes and copy it back in. That can work well, but it can also get complicated, and you need to be very tidy to make sure it fits back in place, or you might have to do a lot of clip shuffling to get it right. The other option is to save the project as another file and work on it safely in the knowledge that the original is not being tampered with. This works OK, too, but listening and comparing between two projects is messy and time‑consuming, and recombining them again is difficult. Both these options require you to have almost inhuman project management skills and a level of togetherness that I rarely see in a studio.

So, into this mess enters the Scratch Pad, and you wonder why no one thought of it before and why no other DAW has adopted it. Maybe everyone else has got their shit together?

Padding Out

A Scratch Pad is an alternative arrangement page within Studio One’s Arrange view. It splits off to the right of the main Arrange View and is in the same format, following the same tracks and using the same editing tools. You can throw the playhead into the Scratch Pad by clicking in its timeline ruler. Dragging the vertical dividing line reveals more or less of the Scratch Pad, although you never fully lose the main arrangement underneath. Scratch Pads have no impact on the mixer console, as the tracks flow through from the main arrangement to the Scratch Pads, so you should see it not as an alternative project but as an alternative arrangement.

The main concept is that it’s a space where you can drag audio and MIDI clips, sections or elements in order to experiment with them safely away from your main arrangement. When you drag in clips, they are automatically copied without you having to...

You are reading one of the locked Subscribers-only articles from our latest 5 issues.

You've read 30% of this article for free, so to continue reading...

  • ✅ Log in - if you have a Subscription you bought from SOS.
  • Buy & Download this Single Article in PDF format £1.00 GBP$1.49 USD
    For less than the price of a coffee, buy now and immediately download to your computer or smartphone.
  • Buy & Download the FULL ISSUE PDF
    Our 'full SOS magazine' for smartphone/tablet/computer. More info...
  • Buy a DIGITAL subscription (or Print + Digital)
    Instantly unlock ALL premium web articles! Visit our ShopStore.

Claim your FREE 170-page digital publication
from the makers of Sound On SoundCLICK HERE

Buy Related Tutorial Videos