How do you allign elements properly?


When I mix, If they give me a track without timing problem, I do good.
The point is that I want to be good at alligning things.
I have tried so many times with Cubase’s Quantization with not luck at all.
If I group-quantize the drums they always sound crap.

Can you help me to develop a technique to allign things right, please?
Let’s say you have a rock song. And you are going to fix the timing.
Can you briefly list your step in order to make it alligned?

Thank you!

Group folder, chop, slide, fade, listen, refine fades fixing possible fading issues, double hits etc. It takes a serious amount of time. Group quantizing works well with simple material only in my world.

Hi marQs, when you say “group folder” Do you mean Group editing? But If I group editing the things move together so how to allign them? Let’s say a drum kit. Thx

I don’t use the quantize function but instead I’ll align it all by eye and ear. If you’re doing drums recorded with multiple microphones then you must group align them otherwise you’ll get big problems - so group folder is the way to go. Once I’ve tidied drums then I align everything else to the drum hits, sometimes going down to individual notes. I always use cut and slide rather than audio warping because the latter will usually introduce distortion and odd noises, i.e. degrade the quality. So, cut and slide into place on everything from bass, guitars, keys, percussion, backing vocals, lead vocals, which as said takes a serious amount of time. Occasionally I’ll create a tempo map from the drums so that I can quantize midi in place, this works well if you’re using midi instruments, and it’s fast.


Hi Mike, what I mean is this:
If you have drums recorded with multiple mics, but the elements inside the kit are not alligned each other, how do you edit them? If you use group editing you move the entire section, so you dont allign them wthin the kit, you allign the kit to the mentronome (I suppose) but the kit itself is not alligned. Or not?


If you have drums with multi mics, you definately have to move them all together. At least if you don’t wanna create a terrible mess :sunglasses:

If you i.e. just quantize the kick drum to the grid the original kick bleed will be heard in the overheads in its original timing. What you get is a proper kick drum and a ghost kick bleeding through all other mics. Chances are that sounds pretty odd an unintented.

Hi Mark
How do you allign the elements inside the multi mic drum kit if they are not alligned each other?

Not sure if I get your point.

Case 1: the drummer was not tight (enough) and you want to edit the performance to be tight - it’s not unusual that you have to cut around most drum hits and slide the cut events into position. Did this just today, a 5 minutes song took me about 1 1/2 hours from sloppy timing to accurate tightness, including cutting/sliding/crossfading/controlling + readjusting fades. Cubase process list documented more than 1500 actions. Didn’t just fix kick, snare and toms to the grid, there were some rides and hhs as well that were off (once you walk this route it sounds ‘wrong’ if you leave some parts ‘natural’ while others are quantized). I could imagine that you just can’t imagine how much work it is if you’ve never done this by yourself.

It looks like this:

Case 2: you want to allign phase correlations and the like between the different mics/tracks. That’s simply done by zooming in and sliding waveforms to a reference point like snare top or one of the overhead channels. But I think that’s not your question, is it?!?

Hi Mark. My point is this:

You have a multi miced drum kit. But the kit itself is not tight: the drummer played snare off and kick off in a different way, so If you use the group editing the elements are still off time.

How to operate in this case, considering that it is a multi miced drum and you have phase correlation?

Thank you

Chop it all up (grouped), slide hits to the grid (all tracks together), crossfade. Maybe I can do a little video later…

Yes, as marQs says just above.

In terms of the click track, I always redefine the tempo track to match the drums, that way I retain the natural feel of the drummer. Then all the other recording gets matched to the grid and hence the drums.

If the drumming is just messy then I’d use the cut/slide method to tidy up say the fills or the odd hit, and I’d usually do this by ear so it sounds in time as the track plays (without the click). (Because if you go down the route of syncing the drums to a click then you’ll probably end up doing every single beat even on a good drummer!! And then you’ll just lose their groove…)

But in the end, it depends on how tight you want the drums and how messy the original session is :slight_smile:


This works if the elements inside the kit are in time.

But, I mean, what if the snare is not in time with the kick?
If you move them grouped, kick and snare are still off time.
What if the performer didn’t play in time with snare and kick? (in a multi miced drum).

Thank you.

Hmm, well perhaps you can use another section or another snare+kick hit to replace the one that’s dodgy? That’s a well trodden path to fixing things.


No phase problems with the OHs?

Copy the overheads as well because they’ll bleed the kick and snare probably. I.e. what I mean is to copy all tracks from another other section where it is played correctly or better.


Indeed, that’s my experience too. If just tiny groove correction is needed, an odd hit here or there, I’ll try to maintain the original groove by doing as less as possible. No one cares about the click without hearing it - as long as it sounds cool.

If the drum performance is not much more than an approximation to anything like a precise tempo I’ll usually chop the whole thing up at nearly every single hit. Not a thankful job but if there’s any reason to not hire a great drummer for the job it’s the only way to get mixable material at all. Happens all the time with the average non-professional band.

Manageable when it’s just simple pop or rock, extremely mindf***ing when it’s heavy metal with really lots of single hits (double kick triplets @ 240 bpm - hard to bring in order if there are too much or not enough hits - when the drummer more or less randomly filled the time with useless non-musical rumbling - sometimes I just tell those guys to go home and learn some songwriting basics, “in the time between give me just a basic backbeat!” :laughing: ).

Cut between kick and snare. When both are (or should be) hit simultaneously but they aren’t, Mike’s proposal to find the same pattern better played and just copy it (of course everytime all of the tracks!) is the way to go.

If you redefine the tempo track to match the drums how can you edit the drum to be tighter?
Do you edit the drum first and then redefine the tempo track or vice versa?


Well, there are a few stages, but which order they’re in depends on the timing of the drumming.

For example, if the drumming is played to a click but loses the click, then listen to the drums without the click and see if it’s OK. If it is then no problem, change the tempo map to match (I usually use time-warp and warp every other bar to the kick, or sometimes every bar if there’s a bit of variation). If it isn’t OK then you’re a bit stuffed, but you could try to move all the drums towards the click so it sounds better - a long job!!

Another stage would be if you’ve got fills which are uneven and messy then you need to tidy them up and make them smooth. This would be done after you’ve matched the tempo map with the drums. You’d then even out the fill so it fits the new tempo map (and having warped the tempo to every other bar or every bar it should be easy by eye to then move the hits to the beats that they’re supposed to be at).

Another stage might be addressing those dodgy snare/kick hits that aren’t together, there you’d use cuts from other places or other takes. Cut and paste is probably the easiest method in for this type of problem.

Probably the final stage is assessing whether the sections and fills are what you want. These could be moved around to fit the song. E.g. you need a bigger fill into the chorus, so put two fills together or take a bigger fill from somewhere else. Or, e.g. the drummer used the ride too early, so duplicate some of the previous section to delay the ride til later.

The final bits are details arrangement really, which ideally the drummer should have detailed before or during the session. But life’s too short, so it doesn’t always happen :slight_smile: If I’m worried about a section being OK during a drum session then I’ll usually ask the drummer for another take with a different feel so at least I’ve got a choice for later.


Thank you, so now that you have done all drum, you start with the bass.
How do you operate here? Slice Copy and xfade manually? Or auto audio quantization?


This is a good thread. I always thought I was doing it wrong but it sounds like the slide, xfade and replace with good hits and sections is really the best way to get less than perfect drum performance happening. Group quantizing hasn’t worked well for me. When all else fails I do full on drum replacement but that is a pain as the trigger engines (I’ve have Slate Trigger and Additive Trigger) are design to replace the kicks, snares and toms and don’t relate to hats and cymbal hits. At least with Addictive Trigger you can export the midi files and get a good reference and then replace patterns using their beat library and program your way to a solution.

Also there is a bug in the group editing when you start moving lanes around… after you have moved a lane Cubase misidentifies the audio and when you do an edit on one lane, expecting it to be replicated on the others it will often edit the wrong lane within the same group. Its buggy so you have to be very careful to check the editing to be sure that the edits are happening as expected.