Quantizing Drums

Discussion in 'Recording/Live Sound' started by BigED, Mar 13, 2008.

  1. BigED

    BigED Member

    Dec 13, 2006
    Has anyone actually gotten this to work? I've tried to do this in Sonar and I've never had any luck. I'd imagine it would be easier if there were only drums and no cymbals.

    Has anyone found any quantizing methods/pieces of software that actually work and sound good? I know the best way is to play it right the first time, but sometimes you are wearing the engineer hat while someone else is playing the drums and you need to work with what you have.

    I'm looking for any advice, as I don't know much on the subject.
  2. Creamy

    Creamy Member

    Jun 7, 2006
    Haven't used Sonar, but try quantizing at a larger interval - say, 1/4 instead of 1/8. Also, you might get better results if you quantize after you add another instrument/part. Hopefully this helps.
  3. dewey decibel

    dewey decibel Supporting Member

    Apr 12, 2005
    we eat a lot of cheese and drink a lot of beer
    Yeah, I'm getting better at it. I don't use Sonar though. Here are some of my thoughts-

    Don't try and do the whole kit at once, break it down into kick, hats, snare, etc, but constantly compare to the rest of the kit as you go (as well as the rest of the track). Everything needs to sound right together in the end.

    You have to have an idea of what you're trying to accomplish before you do it. What I mean is let's say say you're doing the basic hi-hat feel that's laying down 1/8 notes, you have to decide if you want straight 1/8s or some type of swung 1/8s. If they're straight do you want them on the beat, behind the beat, ahead? If it's swung where is the swung note at? Is that swung note ahead or behind, and by how much? For me dealing with the swung stuff is harder (and everything I do has some kind of swagger to it), and while you can find some happy accidents it's best if you hear it in your head before you start.

    Don't be afraid to quantize and then shift- a lot of times I'll quantize the whole thing and then go and shift a note here and there to try and get things to feel more natural, but you can also quantize and then shift the whole thing to get say, a more behind the beat feel.

    Groove templates- I don't know if Sonar has this. Basically you can take a piece of audio and make a quantizing template from it. Then you can use this template on your own stuff. This can be a big help. If you can't do that in Sonar what you can do is find a song with a break that has the feel you're going for and import it into your project, beat map and get the tempos the same, and then try and line up the transients of what you're doing to that beat.

    Along with groove templates you can load in other quantize feels, like the old MPC swing feels. Do a google search. Again, I don't know if you can do this is Sonar.
  4. Steve Dallas

    Steve Dallas Member

    Feb 22, 2005
    Surrounded by Idiots
    Quantizing drums can be pretty tough. I normally approach it by setting the interval to the fastest I used in a particular take. So if I played some 32nd notes in a take, I'll quantize to that, but if I only went to 16ths in another clip, I'll set it thusly for that clip. You may have to separate clips into different tracks to get this to work.

    You may also find you need to edit in some corrections manually to get certain notes to quantize correctly.

    As another poster said, I always go back into a quantized track and manuall edit parts of it to add some feel. A human drummer gets a little ahead from time to time and gets a little behind too. I always add that sort of thing in to "rehumanize" the performace after it's been quantized.

    Of course, I do my level best to nail the performance as much as possible to keep the need to quantize to a minimum.

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