Quantizing Live Drums vs. Warp to Grid

So last night, my songwriting partner and I dug in to trying to quantize a live drum performance for a new song. We tried to follow the much publicized and accepted way of: slice, quantize and crossfade way like in this video from steinberg: https://youtu.be/8nJrxIAH3Uc

It was a disaster.

We set signature to 4/4 which is correct and tempo close to what it was/should be but everytime we quantized the slices moved so much that large gaps appeared and the rythym was unrecognizable. Crossfade of course wouldnt help at that point. We are assuming that because the drums are more complicated than straight boom, chick, boom boom that cubase just didnt get which hits were on the beat.

Then we found Warp to Grid in this awesome video: https://youtu.be/NmEX6tzcg-s and even though we need to tempo detect and warp beats to grid it seems much more straight forward and exactly what we need.

That said, Even thought all the drums are being warped together perfectly due to edit in group, I am worried that the warp to grid method is going to cause problems when we start adding additional audio tracks that arent warped to grid. Should this be a concern?

Lastly, setting the 1 has always been a problem. We have a click in with a crash that starts on the AND before the 1. I remember that we can add pre beats to accomodate that but the biggest issue is how to set the 1.

In perfect world I would like to select the hitpoint that should be the 1 and say make this the 1.

Is this possible? If so I am hoping it would move all prior and following tempo detected beats in the negative and positive range accordingly. I definately dont want to chop off the lead in of the file to set 1 at orign as this which would cause me to lose the AND crash and prefer not to put the 1 at what should be the 2 as I just shouldnt need to.


When slicing you need to be mindful of how many slices you’re creating and what you’ve set as your quantize value. For instance, if you’ve sliced a bunch of 16-note triplet hi-hats and then try to quantize to a quarter note resolution the results will indeed be disastrous!

I often approach this iteratively. Like, just slice quarter note kick drums (I assume you’re working in a folder track with group edit turned on). Quantize. Crossfade. How does it sound? If good then you’re done. If not, try the same with snares. I usually find the deeper or more thoroughly I try to quantize the worse the results.

I’ve also gotten great results with this method, which relies on multi-track phase-coherent warping (something Cubase doesn’t do): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NVXFw9yRFOo

It relies on Audacity, which is free but PC only.

Regarding the ‘1’ - I usually cut the intro hits and tempo detect the remainder of the performance. This forces tempo detect to start at ‘1’. The count-off and any intro fill usually works fine against a fixed tempo.

Thanks for this, but I really would rather not use another daw to accomplish this. Sounds from your answer though that cubase doesnt do phase coherent warping. However if I am applying warp to all drum tracks equally wouldnt they stay in phase?

In regard to multiple slices. I used the standard set hitpoints for snare and kick and only used those two when creating slices. I think that might have been part of my problem as there are for each drum which may cubase to move adjacent hits to make up for it and keep in time.

I am still wondering if I warping the grid so that the drums are in time will cause any audio recorded later to have issue.

When you tell Cubase to warp multiple tracks it’ll warp each of them individually (even in a folder track). That’s where you lose the phase coherency. If a snare and hi-hat hit at slightly different times it’ll force them together, which requires different amounts of warping.

Audacity isn’t a DAW - it’s an audio editor that has the capability of importing/exporting multi-channel WAV files. To summarize the technique: 1. export individual drum tracks from Cubase (let’s say there are 12); 2. import into Audacity; 3. export a single 12-channel (!) WAV file from Audacity; 4. import into Cubase; 5. choose warp points and time correct that single file (all channels are folded into a single file, which forces phase coherence); 6. re-export and fly back to Audacity to reconvert to individual drum tracks.

It’s less work than it sounds. :sunglasses:

“Warping the grid so that the drums are in time” doesn’t make sense. You’re either warping the drums to match the grid or you’re warping the grid to match the drums.

This stuff takes some experimentation and practice. Also, most solutions still require some hand-editing.

I’m also assuming the original recorded drum performance isn’t a complete timing disaster! :laughing:

One of the few features which Nuendo has over Cubase which is of use for music recording is the ability to work with multichannel files - so you could do all of this inside Nuendo.

I am still wondering if I warping the grid so that the drums are in time will cause any audio recorded later to have issue.

Probably this is just a confusion of terminology but warping the grid doesn’t put anything in time…it only moves the grid to the drums timing. (Sorry…I just saw kelp already mentioned this)

Maybe take a few steps back and determine exactly what you have and what you want to end up with:
Where your drums played to a click at all?
Do you want other instruments to follow that timing?
Or would you rather lock those drums to a strict tempo?
Are you looking to completely quantise the drums or do you want to retain some live feel while just correcting anything too loose?

hmmm, I appreciate the response but thats 180 from what the person in first video is saying http://youtu.be/NmEX6tzcg-s

If you watch it says that the audio is warping to the grid in real time so that all audio is at a strict tempo. He shows that the files are set to musical mode and that the an audio warping algorithim is being used so sounds correct.

Where your drums played to a click at all?


Do you want other instruments to follow that timing? Or would you rather lock those drums to a strict tempo?

I want all instruments including drums to follow a set tempo that does not fluctuate.

Are you looking to completely quantise the drums or do you want to retain some live feel while just correcting anything too loose?

Retaining feel would be great but I dont want the beats to completely lose sync with set tempo

In the video he first warps the grid to the audio. Then, after embedding tempo information into the files and changing them to musical mode, he changes the grid and warps the audio to a new [flattened] grid. So, I think we’ve all been correct in using the terminology! But I now better understand you - however, we’re not addressing your OP saying you can’t get it working.

[hi-jack on]
That video is showing something I hadn’t understood or considered before. We were saying that multi-track warp quantize doesn’t maintain phase. However, this video shows him embedding tempo information in the files. If the tempo information is identical for all files wouldn’t changing the tempo preserve phase coherence?
[hi-jack off]

So, have you tried the method in the video, which doesn’t rely on quantization?

Thanks for this. Hopefully you better understand my confusion too! I have only tried the standard slicing and quantizing. I think my issue there is that I sliced based on kick and snare only and since there are many areas where those two start to syncopate (on purpose) cubase loses track of where the beat is and expects there isnt one. I dont use a high hat mic but expect if I add overhead I will get better result.

I took the day off today and in studio to give both methods a try now. I will let you know how I make out.

I super appreciate everyone helping me thru this. I’m usually pretty good at figuring things out but this have been very confusing to me.

is this correct? I just need a confirmation on this…

Cubase does not have phase locked multitrack drum editing abilities?

Can someone just let me know for sure one way or another? I haven’t needed to this yet in Cubase, but when i open up again later in the year to mixing for clients who send me their songs and stems, many of them will have acoustic multi tracked drums.

PS another idea is to buy melda auto align… do whatever drum edits are needed that have the melda plugin put everything gin phase… or auto align from sound radix… This works, no?

I don’t have any real multi tracked drums to test this with now at all unfortunately.

I should have responded long ago saying I did try the warping grid to to track, adding the hit point information to the audio file then setting strict tempo and it worked perfectly!

Since all tracks warp exactly the same my understanding is belief is phase correlation would have been maintained vs. slice method quantizing individual hits.

Hmm ok thank you, i will give this a try on some old stems I found.

I am not sure that is right, just because all can be moved at once in a group… i still read about phase problems.

Mind you I will also try my fix if there is any issues with auto align and if that works, i have that anyway so no probs.

I’m amazed you get any of this stuff to work - I usually end up abandoning these mass correction methods and return to editing every hit by hand - perhaps I’m too old to learn this stuff!?

All auto alignment tools can do is shift by a fixed amount…this won’t help if phase coherence is lost to non locked warping as it will not be a constant.

So question and I really don’t know what the answer is. If I have every file in the session in a folder with group editing on, on and I do warp the grid to say the kick drum, save the tempo information to the to the kick file, then set all files to musical mode and set tempo to a fixed constant wont all the files warp at exactly the same amount in exactly the same place relative to the kick and phase correlation would be preserved? It sure sounds like they did on the one I did but I honestly dont know the answer.

I appreciate the responses

I really don’t know either…have never tested this to be certain…but certainly have seen others say that phase coherence is lost by warping.
Whether it would be enough to be noticeable if you’re stretching between every kick I have no idea.

If I get some time I’ll try to think of a way to test this.

i see what you mean… the plugins will measure and shift by a static amount for each drum track but the actual shift won’t be static. Hmmm…

Ok all the video i have seen use slicing and quantise… i would just warp a few individual hits if needed… i am sure it could be done without ruining everything… will look into it

Hello David.
As far as I understand it is not in Nuendo 10. I’m just trying this in the quantize window with the kick and snare as the priority. In the sections I tried it in I can’t hear or see any phase alignment issues but here is a link to the manual that for now at least sets this on the shelf for me. Disappointing.