Tutorial - Beat Detective Style Multitrack Drum Editing In Studio One 4 [Updated for Version 3.3+]

Drum Editing - Slicing vs Time Compression & Expansion

Without getting into too much detail, I find that there are usually 2 different school's of thought when it comes to editing Multitrack Drums in a DAW. Full disclosure here - yes I'm generalizing, but for those who have been doing this for the last decade or more, I find that they usually rely solely on a slicing method of working. Whereas some of the newer generation couldn't be bothered.

Now first off, let me just get this out of the way - USE WHICH EVER METHOD YOU PREFER! If it works for you then that's great. But while I'm on the topic, let me also say that I personally will always use a slicing method whenever I can on the right sources. ie: percussive / rhythmic elements. To me, there is nothing that beats it despite how good the current time-stretching algorithms may be.

Drum Editing In Pro Tools Using Beat Detective - What's All The Fuss About?

If you are serious about audio engineering and have ever tracked or edited live drums, I'm almost certain that you would have at least heard of this style of editing. Just to be clear - for some of you, you may not have any interest in using slicing (and that's perfectly fine). But for those who (like me) came from Pro Tools, my guess is that the way in which you have become accustomed to working when editing multitrack drums, involved using Beat Detective.

Now for those who have no idea what Beat Detective is, it's essentially a way of working in which audio events (regions) are cut exactly at the initial transient point of say a kick or snare hit for example, and then the beginning of each audio event (representing the start of the transient) is quantized to a grid value. Example: 16th notes. This will obviously result in a vast amount of audio events that are all cut up and shuffled around on your time-line.

Furthermore, any gaps that remain, are then back-filled, and any overlaps that occur would be obviously canceled out. The last step is adding appropriate crossfades between all the adjacent audio events, and double checking your edits - and when done right it's pretty much seamless.

However one aspect that I haven't yet mentioned, is that although the entire process sounds quite daunting and time consuming - Beat Detective in general involves an automated workflow that handles all of these tasks with ease in a few different steps. But here's the thing that I think not a lot of people realize - As of Version 3.3, SO DOES STUDIO ONE!!

Studio One's Take On Automating The Above Process

When I made the move over to Studio One, the one area that I just kept having to hop over to Pro Tools for was drum editing. At that time, Studio One had a few, well.. let's just call them 'quirks' with the way it handled slicing multitrack drums. Long story short, I got frustrated and worked out a workflow that could be used to "mimic" all the steps needed to achieve what I wanted to do without having to export audio events to be edited in Pro Tools & re-imported.

Long story short, my good friends at PreSonus got wind of the video that I had done, and took it upon themselves to basically re-vamp their entire process. About 5 months or so later when Studio One 3.3 was released, (in my humble opinion) it finally worked as it should. The one cool thing though is that Studio One actually does all of the above in 1 single step!

There are a few differences here and there of course, and I would ALWAYS advise double checking your edits before committing. But in general, it's my opinion that it's right on par with Beat Detective in terms of efficiency when used correctly. 

So if you've made it this far through this article, my guess is that this is something you may be interested in. Furthermore, I would encourage anyone editing multitrack drums to at least have a look at this workflow regardless of whether they've ever used Beat Detective or not.

A Quick Note On The Video Above

Yes, the video is long - BUT! My goal here was not only to show how to set everything up and use it in what I consider to be the most efficient way. But also to show how to do manual editing after the fact, to get the timing of your tracks sounding exactly how you need them to without fussing about.

In this video, I demonstrate how to go about using a 'Beat Detective Style' Drum slicing work-flow when editing/quantizing Multitrack Drums in Studio One 4. Although Studio One Version 4 was used, this video is applicable to anyone using Studio One version 3.3 and above.

And as always, if you enjoy this content, please - Share, Subscribe, and hit that like button. :)

Cheers, Marcus