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Hi all... recently I saw this new forum (maybe with time the best audio forum because its very large boards).

I have a little problem fixing drums.

I've recorded 7-8 tracks of live drums. How can I quantize this tracks for fixing out of time hits or for thighten up? (or groovin' a
sterile & clinical live performance).

I do it now by manual editing... cut & drag the hits (to a grid or
groove template), trim them (no silences) and smooth (crossfades).
But I spend much time with it. I'd like to know how much time have I spend with this? I do special care in not much edit for not liveless.

I'd like to know if there is a better
way to do this... or to speed up the work.
Tips of engineers who are experience with it.
I know major studios do that (Andy Snitzer for example), but I don't know how much in the recordings we're hearing todays (it must be a secret like the use of AutoTune).

I use logic & nuendo now, and I've worked with Pro Tools in studios... maybe with a tool like Beat Detective (automatic groove extraction-
tempo map creation-trimming-smoothing) from Pro Tools 5.1. But it isn't released at date and I do this kind of editing in a laptop (non Pro Tools TDM).

Thanks in advance and sorry for my bad english... cheers.


e-cue Sat, 12/16/2000 - 14:02

My experence with pitch'n time has been that, first off, the newer version is better. (duh) If you pitch 'n time an entire song, drums lose some of their attack. If your using it bar by bar, you probably won't run into this problem. It sounds better than other programs & plug-in's I've tried like SPEED. Print a click track as a reference, and start chopping each bar, or however fine resolution you what to get into. This takes a long time, and if you doing a drum beat that just repeats (unlike jazz or something), it would make more sence to just copy & paste.Also, if the recorded material you recorded is digital peaking, but doesn't sound distrorted- it may if you speed the material up. If that's the case, use the gain plug-in to trim your audio a couple of db.

anonymous Sun, 12/17/2000 - 07:49

I've downloaded the manual & the demo version of Serato Pitch'n Time. I don't understand how does it work with many tracks (grouping tracks before, applying the process to all tracks independently,...)? The documentation says that limits on 48 tracks maximun (phase coherence between them). I can't try the demo now.

Thank you in advance.


Greg Malcangi Mon, 12/18/2000 - 08:03

Hi zepdave. Trying to do this manually is very time consuming. In my experience the beat detective (or equivalents) can cut down this time but still often need a lot of playing around unless the drumming is really simple.

By far the best solution is to get a decent drummer in the first place. The ability to play in time is a basic requirement of any drummer of any age. A professional who cannot play in time should not be a professional.


anonymous Mon, 12/18/2000 - 11:27

Hi Greg. I'm pleasing u answer this topic.

I think too that it is very time consuming.
I recorded this tracks without click track, and we prefered the first takes (the fresh ones) over 30 approx. There are some things that exist in this takes that don't in the last ones... maybe the drummer isn't so pro, but not all days u record an album with a great old experience drummer.

When we starting the recording, we decided record without metronome 'cause a better aproach of dynamics and because the songs are very tempo changing with many odd signatures... maybe too pressure to the drummer. The performances obtained over 13 songs (3 months of heavy working) are great but some little hits are "bad" (only very little in time, awesome in dynamics), others "leak" sterile or "clinical" (some bars are groovies and others not much). We want a lineal/live performances (much groove and no using of loops at all), but with this type of songs is difficult to achieve. Some "bad" hits are covered by the bass performance (then we consider to this "ghost notes" and i don't fix them), other hits are bad timing but glued fine with the bass tracks (we consider this "groove"), and others don't without a fixing.
We probably are too pretentious or perfectionist. Or I need more recording experience (sure).

I've heard that this method is used all days in major studios with major bands (Andy Snitzer with BonJovi,...), like the use of Autotune and VocalAlign in very complex vocal songs. I'd like to know if this is true.... What are your experiences in this working way? Any recording with this that u know?

Sorry for my english one more time...

and thanks in advance.

Greg Malcangi Tue, 12/19/2000 - 07:53

Hi zepdave,


You can use an internal metronome in your audio/MIDI software that will follow your tempo changes. However for dynamics and feel, your reasons for not using a metronome are spot on.


Especially if you're not using a metronome, in your situation there really is no alternative to using a high quality professional drummer. If you look at it from a different perspective you will understand why:

MIDI and sampling has hit the professional drummer harder than almost any other instrumentalist. The question is why are there still quite a number of quality professional studio drummers out there? What are they doing to earn money that can't be done cheaper using a loop or some drum programming? The answer is there are a lot of people who want the drums to have a live feel, to be the opposite of sterile or clinical. This is where the quality pro drummer comes in. As yet there is simply no satisfactory substitute and this is what pro studio drummers rely on to earn a living.


Eric Bazilian Sat, 12/23/2000 - 10:43

"Fixing" live drums....ah, a fave topic of mine. The good news is that, yes, setting up a tempo grid and slicing, dicing, chopping drums to fit does actually result in a track which not only has all the nifty "human" performance elements intact, but is as perfectly in time as you want it to be. Having done this for the past couple of years I can guarantee that it does NOT strip the "feel" from a performance....rather, it can rescue moments of wild inspirational abandon which may have otherwise ended up on the floor.

Also, if said track contains any kind of drum loop the difference between corrected and uncorrected drums is dramatic.

Bear in mind....this has nothing to do with "good" or "bad" drumming. I've chopped up the very best, and even they agree it sounds better. Then again, if you actually have the luxury of recording a good band in a live situation, disregard all the above. In such case, should one desire to try laying in a loop of some sort later on, it becomes necessary to create a manual tempo map, then chop the loop into its constituent particles and use Command-U (I believe it's this) to quantize to the map, then go through and trim all the regions to eliminate clipping attacks or leaving blank space.

The bad news is that all the above is quite labor intensive. I do await the arrival of Beat Detective somewhat catiously, though my experience has been that separating regions (and, of course, grouping all drums...), snapping them to the grid, then trimming regions back and forth as needed sounds significantly better than using any kind of time compression/expansion. Then, once all the hits are in place (and edits checked....some nasty clicks can arise....crossfades can accomplish miracles), Audiosuite Duplicate all the tracks to give your hard drives a break.

The other advanrage of editing to a strict tempo map is the ability to freely edit fills, sections, etc. creatively.

Then again, this is just my experience.....

Eric Bazilian
The Mousetrap
"Music Is Good"

anonymous Sun, 12/24/2000 - 07:29

Thanks Greg, thanks Eric, thanks e-cue...all & Merry Xmas.

Greg... I agree with u in most of your answers. A very best drummer is the ONLY thing, nothing than a performance of a great percusionist (his/her tempo, live, groove,...). This things let the performance a fresh one; everytime we hear this, we note new things (it seems that the performance change with our state of mind, i listen it today and it seems different tomorrow). Greg, are u the greg i imagine? The clasical performer & composer? Great...

But I agree with Eric too. I think to edit a performance that is estelar, make this a more stelar one. For example, I think Roger Nichols did a good job with the last album of Steely Dan, in which a primo-drummers play around (Michael Lawson, ...). Only we care 'bout the liveless of editing work.

Eric, can u give some tips for speed up the session? I work in Logic now, but Protools too.

Cheers to all.

Greg Malcangi Tue, 12/26/2000 - 03:15

Hi zepdave,


Many years ago I was a professional orchestral musician, but I no longer play. Although I use a lot of classical elements in my compositions very few of them sound like classical music. My knowledge of soloists and percussion come from my wife who is a full-time soloist.

I'm lucky in that I very rarely ever need or want to edit a take. Although I have heard some good work with highly edited percussion. There is no doubt in my mind that the overall shape and feel are better if you can get away without editing.

BTW, although Logic is far better for MIDI, I prefer PTools for editing audio.


anonymous Tue, 12/26/2000 - 13:02

Many thanks Greg... I consider much your answers. It's great to obtain the help of people that are a big part or all in music and recording.
And YES, Evelyn is an awesome percussionist, with instrumentalists like her, edits are unnecesary.

Protools rules, but I prefer nowaday Logic, even in audio works and editing process. I think Logic sounds better than PT (maybe other topic ).

Cheers... zepdave.

anonymous Tue, 12/26/2000 - 14:19

Greg seems to be spot on, in terms of time, feel, and YOUR time, getting the right drummer for the gig is paramount. If you're dealing with a band that is great live, but recorded-not so magical-spell it out. It's a tough call, but an edited drum track is just that, unless its loops that youre doing anyway. Also, where is the recording headed?
Radio? A&R? Club booking? "Garage band" enthusiasts? Personal enjoyment? That answer may help you decide how much time/$$ to spend. Most of all, does the SONG ask for it?

Greg Malcangi Thu, 12/28/2000 - 01:51


How long is a piece of string? There is no real answer to this, it all comes down to personal preference. There are many different snare drums on the market. Of which there are probably 50 or so that I would call professional quality. It's the same with heads, snares, tensions and mic positions. One is not neccesarily better than another, they all just provide variations of tone colour. Which combination is best for you depends entirely on the sound you are looking for. There is one more variable which complicates matters, the player. The same drum with the same sticks, heads, tuning etc., will sound different from player to player.

My wife has about 10 different snare drums. The acoustics of the venue and the style of the piece she is playing dictates which snare drum she will use.


I take it you are referring to a rimshot? If so, the biggest single factor is the player. A rimshot is usually created by the player hitting the rim and the head at the same time with the same stick. Getting the balance right between the amount of head and the amount of rim gives the clear "crack" sound but is very difficult to acheive baring in mind we are talking of a millimeter or less of difference on what is often a large full stroke. Even the very top players sometimes have difficulties getting the balance of a rimshot dead right.

There is a cheat for getting the correct balance provided there is plenty of time in the part: One stick is laid across the rim and head and is then struck in the middle by the other stick.

Dave, if you have any further questions on this subject you should start a new topic in the "Percussion" forum.


anonymous Thu, 12/28/2000 - 14:36

Sorry for my later replies... I have problems with my connections.

I have to be honest... ... I encountered info of the relation between u & your wife when i was looking for info 'bout Evelyn (I don't remember now... I think a review of an album performed by her and "Greg produced", on a jazz magazine). I'll buy this cd in if available (only i've heard some parts of it).


anonymous Mon, 10/11/2004 - 17:00

When you guys are "fixing" live drum tracks what do you do about the overheads?

I find that after I quantize the toms, snare, and kick it's slightly off with the overheads and sounds like crap!

What am I supposed to do? Replace the overheads with samples? I imagine that would totally take away the feel.

I know quantizing drum tracks has become a standard for the pro's nowadays, but I'm totally confused on how they do it with out throwing the OH's off.

Screws Mon, 10/11/2004 - 17:16

If I have to edit my drum tracks to fix some beats that are off, I usually edit all the tracks simultaneously, including the overheads.

Even if you're only fixing a single snare beat, the other mics will have picked up enough of that snare hit to necessitate sliding it in all the other tracks as well.

anonymous Mon, 10/11/2004 - 19:07

Johnjm22 wrote:
I find that after I quantize the toms, snare, and kick it's slightly off with the overheads and sounds like crap!.

You have to treat all of the drum tracks as 1 object. Group all of your tracks so if you make a cut on a kick drum transient, that it cuts all of your drum track. and if you move a slice, all of the tracks are moved equally.

I made a PowerPoint presentation on how to quantize multitrack drums in Nuendo.... if anyone is interested. It can be played on any computer using Internet Explorer


Even if you dont use Nuendo, the basic concept can be used on all DAWs.

Guest Wed, 10/13/2004 - 04:50

Just curious, have y'all ever considered working with drummers that can actually play? I realize that this is kind of a foreign concept in this period of "we CAN edit the life out of everything, so dammit, we WILL edit the life out of everything".

Like gated reverb and "Simmons drums" in the 80's, and one headed toms with a Kotex stuck to the snare drum in the 70's, and the rat-ta-tat-tat of drum replacement samples in the 90's... you are time stamping your recordings by doing all this ridiculous [and if you had a drummer that could play worth a shit], unnecessary editing/quantization from hell.

FWIW... I worked on a couple of records where every drum hit was put into place, invariably, unless the drum parts were exceptionally sparse and open, they sucked. Being old, I did this kind of destructive editing with a razor blade on 2" tape... but it's the exact same principle y'all are doing now... it sucked then, it hasn't gotten any better with age.

Carry on.

Screws Wed, 10/13/2004 - 08:21

Not that I feel at all defensive, but I agree with Fletcher in part. As a child of midi sequencing, I too got used to quantizing everything I did. It was easier than asking a real keyboard player with real chops to come in and lay down the parts for me. And in those days, recording live drums was absolutely out of the question.

But as the studio grew and live drums became an option, the old sequencing habits started to die away, and I began looking for best takes rather than fixing takes.

But I still fix an occasional out of place snare hit. I still move a fill from one take to another, if appropriate. I still correct a bad bass note or wrong word or missed guitar chord in an otherwise excellent take. And the bands love me for it.

If my job is outlined by a band to simply capture their best takes, intact, then I do that. But usually they just want a great sounding CD and couldn't care less how that's achieved.

maintiger Wed, 10/13/2004 - 10:04

When you have a good drummer its not hard to line up the ocassional- and I really mean the ocassional here- snare or kick hit that is not on the money- man, they stick out like a sore thumb!- But when the cat cant play you are definitely SOL and its a lost cause trying to fix it. Better get a new drummer, sample drums, drum machine, loops whatever- for a lousy drummer will throw everyone off and you cant never get a decent track, no matter what you do

KurtFoster Wed, 10/13/2004 - 11:48

Fletcher wrote: Just curious, have y'all ever considered working with drummers that can actually play? I realize that this is kind of a foreign concept in this period of "we CAN edit the life out of everything, so dammit, we WILL edit the life out of everything".

heee heee heee!! :mrgreen: "I can edit, therefore I will!

Fletcher wrote: FWIW... I worked on a couple of records where every drum hit was put into place, invariably, unless the drum parts were exceptionally sparse and open, they sucked.

There's a story going around about a notoriously crappy drummer who is in a famous major mega metal band ... who was quoted as saying as he exited the PT editing suite, "Wow! That's the best drum track I never played!"

Pretty sad huh??? :cry:

anonymous Tue, 01/04/2005 - 19:24

quantizing "Live Drums"

Hi all. just thought I'd ad to this. If you are not using ProTools and beat detective you can get BeatQuantizer which is a stand alone multi-track drum quantizer. to my ear it sounds pretty good and you can partially quantize drums so you can retain as much or a little of the drummers feel as you'd like. This is a fairly new program which could be at some point great but I have found it to be a bit of a pain. mainly in importing and exporting your multi track drums to it and back to your audio sequencer.
I have also developed a way to do this same partial or full quantizing in Cubase SX3 with as many tracks of multi track drums as you like. No phase shift and the cross fades sound superior to Beat quantizer. Cubase also makes it very easy to 'warp' a tempo grid to drum tracks that where not recorded to a click. this would give you a starting point to quantize the tracks to tighted up the performance. I could give details on how I do this but it would require a detailed step by step. Let me know if any one is interested.

sproll Wed, 01/05/2005 - 11:10

McBass: I am definately interested! However, I have Cubase Sx 2... would the steps involved still be the same? Please post! :)

As for everyone else who says "Play with a good drummer", well... here's the deal. I'm a drummer. I've been playing for a good 12 years with different bands and different styles of music. I've won a Sabian Showcase Drummer of the Year award and got a semi-endorsement deal as the result of winning. Mind you, I am not Neil Peart or Mike Portnoy, not even by a long shot! :D However, I do consider myself to be a "good" drummer. I have good timing, feel, and play well with others to augment the song and not to show off my abilities.

In a recording situation, you have to be very practiced and very comfortable to be able to put your tracks down perfect. I'm sure even the pros make mistakes and do a few takes. I think that experience in a recording environment is the most important thing to be able to pull off a successful session, and I'm sure you would agree with me. Now, figure out how many good or great drummers there are out there that you get to work with on a daily basis. How many of those have some years of recording experience? Probably not too many. My point is, a little bit of editing I think is an ok thing in a day and age of expensive recording time (or broke musicians hehe) and a smaller talent pool. I agree that you shouldn't have to edit the crap out of it, but a small nudge here and there isn't something to get all out of shape about. People aren't perfect... we aren't machines (most of us) and we were meant to play live with feeling, not to a click with a backing band. :)

Cut the drummers some slack, it's a hard instrument to play! A hit just a quarter of a second off and it's no good... at least in this day and age of pro-tools and beat detective. :wink:

anonymous Wed, 01/05/2005 - 12:59

Drum quantizing

First of all - my take on quantizing drums. For those that don't like the sound or think it can't be done without it being obvious (read- lack of feel or groove) you probably don't know how to do it right or when to do it. There are drum tracks that can be quantized effectively and tracks that can not. But in most cases a rock drum beat can really benefit from at least a little 'tightening up'. I as a home and project studio owner do not have the luxury of having the space/equipment for tracking all the rhythm tracks at once and as a member of the band that primarily uses this studio I know that we as busy adults do not have the time to rehearse for endless hours so we can lay down that perfect killer take. That said - most if not all of the scratch rhythm tracks recorded along with the drums get re-recorded later. I'll tell you as a bass player, even if the drums seem to be spot-on during the tracking, when you go to redo bass or rhythm parts later it can get really dicey. Even just a bit of tightening up of the drums can go a long way to making the finished song sound tighter - as if it was recorded all at the same time. - which is ultimately what we want to achieve, right? I personally don't do much if any quantizing of overdubs because if the basic drum track is tight and doesn't have any timing quirks it is unnecessary. understand that this is just my situation and I think the situation of many others. I would love to have the luxury of being able to record amazing tracks without editing (man, it would save me some serious mouse finger!) but to quote someone on this forum who earlier said something like "we just want to record the best possible sounding tracks and it doesn't really matter how this achieved" I think if it sounds good, it will always sound good, nobody is going to care how something was recorded. Us engineers just have to use our ears and experience and not just go by what the waveform looks like on the screen. Any way - sproll - do you have an email where I can send you a step by step- I'm not that familiar with this forum if there is a way to get it here. SX 2 will do the same thing. Thanks

sproll Wed, 01/26/2005 - 12:08

Yo McBass...

Not trying to bug, just wanted to bump this up to make sure you didn't forget. My bass player is almost done laying his tracks and I'll be using your method probably in the next week or so if you have it done. I'm sure there's a few other people on here that are interested too!

Again, not trying to bug... just wanted to make sure you didn't forget. Myself, I'd forget my head if it wasn't attached - honestly, I'm terrible... and I never even did a lot of drugs! (What a ripoff - lol)


anonymous Tue, 02/08/2005 - 02:55

me too, please

Could you send it to me, also please:

i usually do this trick:
i detect hitpoints of what has loose timing.
then i create markers, next i go to Quitize Custom Setup, and store
this preset "Kick Drum 80 Bpm.4/4 etc."
note:, future Hitpoint detection will overwrite this, so i won;t loose this map.

then i layout tracks in special way: Say:
Right Overhead - st track
Left Overhead - nd track
Kick Drum - next track.

if other tracks are gated of cause.

then i have detting on snap "Use Quantize"
and i will set there my Stored preset of Original rythm.

then i use "Range Selection Tool" (not Arrow select)
to select across the tracks on all three tracks.
after i have one or several hitpoints selected,
i will change quintize to Rytmical unit of piece (i.e.: 1/16)
then i will move manually selection, this will automatically split part, and will snap to Correct timing,
this is best way i've found, maybe you are more lucky


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