On page 50 of this issue, Keyboard rounds up five state-of-the-art drum replacer apps that do most of the work for you. However, not everyone has jumped on this bandwagon — many of today’s top producers and mixing engineers continue to use time-proven techniques that are decidedly old-school. Take New York City-based engineer Cooper Anderson (Kanye West, John Legend, Ghostface Killah), who admits to never having used any of the software in this issue’s roundup.
“I have a cool way of doing it in Pro Tools and Logic Pro,” he says. “Neither requires any additional software, but the Pro Tools method is slightly easier with the help of SoundReplacer.”
Nearly a decade old, Digidesign’s Sound Replacer (shown) is no longer marketed as a drum replacer app per se; Digidesign’s 2006 acquisition of TL Drum Rehab from Trillium Lane Labs (see page 53) has since filled that bill. Still, Sound Replacer is huge in pro mixing circles, with some engineers preferring to use it in a more manual process of replacing drum hits. This all begins with making a trigger track from a duplicate of the kick or snare track in question.
“With Tab-to-Transient enabled and the Commands Keyboard Focus mode turned on in Pro Tools, I’ll tab the edit point to the first hit to be triggered and set the nudge value to a 64th-note,” explains Anderson. “Using the region ‘Trim Start to Insertion’ command, I trim everything to the left of the trigger and nudge the edit point one 64thnote to the right. This should leave a little bit of the beginning of the drum hit. Next, I split the region using the Separate command, then tab to the next trigger, and repeat.”
When you tab through the transients, the edit point may stop in between desired drum hits. If you’re not sure whether a transient is supposed to be there, you can always hit Play to find out — you won’t lose your place. After the triggers have been trimmed, consolidate the track.
“You can now use Sound Replacer to make a really accurate replacement track,” says Anderson. “If you don’t have Sound Replacer, you can use the focus mode and Tab to Transient to paste in samples on a new track.”
In Logic Pro, Anderson also creates a trigger track, but needs no replacement plug-in. To do this, start by making a physical copy of the drum track in the Audio Bin, then open the new audio file in the Sample Edit window. Next, carefully select all audio found in between the drum hits. You’ll need to both visually and aurally audition the part as you move along, ensuring that you don’t miss a hit or mistake a background transient for the drum you’re trying to replace.
“You can even clip most of the decay off the drum,” notes Anderson. “All it needs for the trigger is a little bit at the very beginning. Then use the Silence command. I’ve assigned the F8 key command to this.”
Once you have the audio file stripped, drag it onto a track in the arrange window, making sure to drop it on a bar line. Put the SPL (song position line or “play head”) on that bar line. Select a MIDI or instrument track and open the audio file in the Sample Edit window once again, then select the Audio to Score command.
“Scroll through the audio file to make sure there are no false or missing triggers,” says Anderson. “When everything is ready, just hit Process. You’ll then have a MIDI track you can use to trigger drums from any instrument plug-in. Logic’s MIDI Transform commands can be used in any of the MIDI editing windows to put all of the triggers on the same note, adjust velocity weighting, or make numerous other useful tweaks.”