How to produce great-sounding drum tracks - Editing
This is a part 2 of the tutorial on how to process individual raw drum tracks into a finished product. Make sure to read all of the parts.
Part 1: Introduction / Approach
Part 2: Editing
Part 3: Track Time Alignment
Part 4: Gating
Part 5: EQ
Part 6: Phase Alignment
Part 7: Compression
Part 8: Ambiance (Reverb)
We are going to manually edit out (mute) parts on some tracks when there is no desirable signal present on the tracks. For example: when working with “tom 1” track, we are going to edit out the parts where tom 1 was not played and only leave the portions of the signal where tom 1 was played.
This is pretty much what the gate does, but we will do this manually for toms and use the gate for other things. You can easily visually see what needs to be edited out.
Zoom in on the first tom track and make cuts using the scissor tool. Cut just before the tom stroke and after the tom decay. Make sure you don't cut the decay out too soon. It should sound natural. Always cut before and after the stroke. After you have made the cuts, scroll through the track deleting unwanted parts.
Tip: enable your software to do an automatic 5-10ms fade-in, fade-out and cross-overs of audio abjects within the sequence. This is important to avoid artificial click and pops of signal going in and out.
In Cubase and Nuendo you can do this simply by clicking on any track, then on the name of the track in the left top corner to open the track options. You will see a small cross-fade symbol. Click on it to open the settings. See the pictures.
So, now we are left with only the tom 1 strokes on tom 1 track. Success! Repeat the same procedure for toms 2, 3 and 4.
Lots of times cymbals will “bleed” through the tom mics. Even when edited out, those cymbal sounds may still remain right after tom strokes. Best way to ease them out is to select all of the edited parts on the track and apply a fade out on all of them simultaneously. In Cubase it is easily done by moving the top right corner of the audio events to the left.
If there are areas where hi-hat is not played for a while, you may want to take the same approach with hi-hat track. Remove the parts where hi-hat is not played and you can only hear other components "bleeding" through.
Next is Time Alignment of drum tracks.