Optimize Pro Tools: Setting Your Clock Source

| Optimize Pro Tools, Pro Tools, Tips

In Wednesday’s post we took a look at how one can easily expand your interfaces inputs with an ADAT enabled set of mic pres. This is, of course, assuming your audio interface comes with an Optical ADAT connection. If you then go ahead and purchase one of these lightpipe devices, hook it up to your interface, and record enable your tracks you might notice some weird pops and clicks happening that are really annoying. This is the result of confusion on which device (your interface or lightpipe device) is acting as the clock source. Here’s the quick and dirty way to fix things in Pro Tools.

Once your lightpipe device is connected and powered up, go to the Setup menu and choose Hardware

This will open up a box that shows what your current clock source is selected as. Usually “Internal”. Which makes sense, you’re clocking with your audio interface’s internal clock. But if you want multiple digital devices to play nice you’ll need to let this new lightpipe device be the clock source. To do this simply click on the drop down box under Clock Source and choose Optical. Click OK and the problem should be fixed. Easy as pie!

If at some point you power off your lightpipe device, Pro Tools will prompt you that it is reverting back to the internal clock as it no longer sees an external one. You can always switch this back if need be. Enjoy!


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32 Responses to “Optimize Pro Tools: Setting Your Clock Source”

  1. Luis

    Graham, this is so valuable! It’s funny because I have been considering purchasing the DIGI 003 and, as I was doing some research, I ran into a person that recommended Eleven Rack. It surely is a powerful interface for guitarists (like me!). I found that Eleven Rack combines Pro Tools software with a high-resolution, dual DSP-powered audio interface so I’d never have to worry about latency when recording nor my computer have to carry the processing burden. You can also expand to up to 8 simultaneous input channels using AES/EBU or S/PDIF. I said to myself ‘wow!, for the price of this unit I think that’s the way to go…!
    However, I noticed that Digidesign (now AVID) is not bragging a lot about this expansion feature so I said to myself Ok, where’s the catch? Come to find out, this might not be the best way to go if you’re trying to expand your inputs since there is no word clock. Therefore it could be a headache since there is no word clock to clock multiple converters making it very annoying to track several inputs at once.
    So, I’ll go with the 003 and expand following your recommendations. After my extensive research I also found its the most affordable way to go in the long run.
    Thank you so much for all you do to keep us well informed. You’re awesome!
    God Bless!

  2. Graham

    Luis – Glad I could help. You can’t go wrong with the 003. Fabulous studio setup and very expandable indeed. Enjoy!

  3. Jay Bradshaw

    Working with the optical interface (on both Digi 001 & Digi 002R), when recording more than 8 tracks, I occasionally encounter a brief audio drop-out on the recorded tracks (from the optical interface ONLY). Using an actual ADAT as the interface, with clock set to ‘optical’. Example: Recording 16 tracks (8 via Digi & 8 via ADAT), drop-out occurs simutaneously on tracks 9-16 only (tracks 1-8 via Digi are unaffected). Am I doing something wrong, or is this a common problem (i.e. loss of clock)?

    • Graham

      Jay – I have not encountered that problem ever. But anything is possible. At one point Pro Tools was tell me that I lost signal to my ADAT device a lot, and I just had to get a new optical cable.

  4. steve

    Wow, once again your on it before I can even ask the question! I just got
    the behringer adat pre and started noticing little pops and cracks. Before
    I could email a question, I found this quick easy fix on your site.
    Thanks again Graham.
    when do you find time to sleep? lol

  5. Larry Smiley-El

    I just built an i5 machine (3.1 GHz i5 Quad Core; 8GB DDR3 ram; 10kRPM 300GB system drive; Quadro FX 1700…) When I tried to play my Pro Tools 8 LE projects an error message says, “Problem detected with audio clock. Check that your clock source and sample rate are correct.” I checked the source clock, it is internal. The sample rate is 48kHz with a 24 bit bit-depth. It will not play… I’m running Windows 7 Ultimate on this machine. It ran well on my Dell Inspiron 1545 laptop but the resources gave me limitations. What do I do?

    • Graham

      Larry, if you haven’t already, check out the most current system requirements for PT LE8 on a windows 8 machine. There may be a free dot release of PT 8 that would fix this kind of bug.

  6. Larry Smiley-El

    Graham, I did a clean OS reinstall and changed the usb port I was going in on and it works great now. I knew I have usb 3.0 ports but the book says these ports are backward compatible. They aren’t. I have noticed that Pro Tools will “take a break” every now and then. It’ll just stop playing, and then after like a minute it’ll stop and allow me play the timeline again.

  7. Davo

    Graham, I was having this problem using my lightpipe and used the settings you recommended. Everything recorded great, but now I have a new problem. I can’t bounce anything to disc without the tempo and pitch of the song changing. It’s a lot slower and lower pitched than the original recording. While it’s playing in the background during the bounce, it sounds perfect. I try to open it as MP3 or WAV, and it’s all messed up. Any suggestions?

  8. Mike

    I’m having the same kind of issue as well. The difference in my situation being the bounced track sounds higher in pitch and faster. We recorded at 48 instead of 44.1 which is what is causing the issue, I’m assuming, but I’ve tried a few different bounce out combinations and it doesn’t seem to be working.

    How can I get it to sound like it did when we recorded it? I’ve tried bouncing out at 48 and 44.1 and a few other combinations but it always sounds like the song is in fast forward.

  9. Jarlizzle

    Hey. We’ve hooked up our digi 002 with a behringer pro-8 through a lightpipe cable. The digi is hooked up to the laptop with a firewire cable and set the clock source to optical. We find all 16 inputs (mic/line , analog and adat) when we make a new track. However, when we start recording this message pops up : ” Problem detected with audio clock. Check that your clock source and sample rate are correct. ”
    Everything is set to 44.1 and 24-bit.
    I don’t have a turion processor.
    I’m running win7 in compatability mode(32bit).

    Any help would be much appreciated ! :)

    • Graham

      It might be a compatibility issue with your version of Pro Tools. Your best bet is to check the support forums at duc.avid.com and post there. Those guys are helpful!

  10. steve reed

    I’m running PT9 W/ ext HD and m-audio Projectmix i/o with a beringer 8 pre amp via adat is there a way to my system to run off the Projectmix i/o instead of the ext. mic pre and also i noticed some of my back ups arn’t going to my ext. HD is their a pref for this and should I have plug ins / drum grooves etc… on ext HD Thanx Graham

    • Graham

      Steve- not sure what u mean about running off your project mix vs the Behringer. The project mix is your main interface, so u should be able to use its pres and I/O all u want. Regarding your HD, don’t put software or plugins on the external. Just save your PT sessions and audio on it.

  11. Chase Sansing

    I tried changing my clock source, but it can only be set to “internal.” I have a Mbox 2 mini connected to my protools 8, and I hope thats not the problem because I dont want to ave to buy something thats expensive. please help me!

    • Graham

      You can’t hook up ADAT mic pres to your Mbox mini so you don’t need to change the clock source from internal.

      • Chase Sansing

        This is my problem, I have my Mbox 2 mini connected to my computer with its USB cord and when i click on protools, it opens up just fine, but when i click record and play, it says i need to check my clcok source and sample rate. I know how to check the clock, but it can only be set to internal and that’s it.

        • Chase Sansing

          Everywhere I have read about, says i need it to be on “Internal” but it for suome reason does not let me record. is there something else i can change or how do i get more options under my clock source.

          • Nilmon Filho

            I have the same problem…. Mbox2 USB cord… and the same error! Anyone can help?

  12. Fire

    Ive just installed pro tool 8 it wont open i only get a massege that i must fix my clock settings some one help.

  13. Bill Simmons

    Gram I wish I had found your site 9 months ago. Our church purchashed Protools 9, 2 Saffire pro 40s, And an Octopre. Took me and my son-in-law quite a bit of trial and error to figure out the setup. We were missing the setting the clock source to ADAT to get the popping to quit.. I do have a question though. Every time I startup the whole system I have to go back in to the Mix Control software and reset the clock source to ADAT. Any way to save the settings? I am recorcding on a Macbook Pro and using it away from the Pro 40 setup at home to do some editing if that makes a difference.

    • Graham

      Hmm. It sounds like Pro Tools isin’t “seeing” your digital device. Maybe a bad cable or connection?

  14. drew

    hey man.i’m having problem with digi 003 and pt 10.i have a long VO recording session and playing it back every once in a while but after the session i rest for an hour and when i go back and load my session the playback sound weird.it playback in slow speed.any advice?


  15. Jacob

    Hey Graham!
    First of all, thnx a mill for all your tip sharing! I love the way you “teach”

    I have a problem connecting my ada8000 to my protools hd rig..

    I connect the ada8000 out to 191 IO optical in and vice versa. I do this because I want the ada8000 to be slave..

    I can see the inputs in protools, when adding a new track. but there isnt any signal even though the light shines through both ligtpipes..

    What could be the problem?

  16. Catalina F

    I have an Mbox 2 mini and i have a problem with it, i installed protools 8 in my laptop and when im going to open a session it doesnt let me reproduce it, and protools says that i have to check the clock source…. i went to hardware but I only have one option and is mbox2 and where it says interna there is no other option.. what can i do with that? sorry… im not from usa or another country where english is the language so … im sorry if im writting in the wrong way.
    Thank u!

  17. Stephen Boyle

    Hey Graham, long time fan and follower of recording revolution, iv seen most of your youtube videos and own a couple of your rethink products. I had a question I am running pro tools 12 with an mbox3 and a roland octa capture and i was wondering which had the better clock source. I was thinking maybe the octacapture just because it was a newer product but in all honestly i do not know.I was wondering if you had any incite into this?

  18. Scott Blackwell

    im using a saffire pro 40 and the octopre mark2 dynamic with pro tools 11
    I have tried running both as clock source etc, etc, adat internal, clocksource., and still getting clicks and pops on my recorded tracks at first I was getting clicking noise when I hit record on any track then it only showing up after track recorded and listening to playback ???

    • Graham

      So you’ll want the saffire to be on it’s INTERNAL clock. And the Ocotpre to be on ADAT for clock.

  19. Kristof Szobacsi

    Hello you guys!! I have a problem with the sync device of avid and the Digidesign 192, technically when you plug in the the serial host of the SYNC device to the PRO TOOLS CORE CARD(in computer) and loop source of the sync to the digidesign 192 when opening pro tools in the session setup clock source should appear….or in SETUP-PERIPHERALS-SYNCHRONIZATION window you could adjust the setting and device or PORT….but it doesnt even appear there…its like the computer cant see the sync device and i cant put it so its the master clock….please help me :(


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