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  • #16
    Before going any further, it's worth noting that most of what AudioSnap does is transient-based. In other words, the process analyzes a clip for transients, and draws transients where it finds them. This is important because if, for example, a kick drum hits on every quarter note and AudioSnap finds those transients, you can immediately let Sonar know those transients indicate beats, which makes calculations such as changing tempo much easier.

    However, as anyone knows who’s used Cubase’s “Hit Points” feature, tried to slice a REX file in ReCycle, or edit the Acidization markers in Acid or Sonar, transient detection is by no means a perfect science. Sonar has Threshold and Sensitivity controls to let you cut out some of the “chatter” and restrict the selection of transients to rhythmically useful values, but the effectiveness varies with the material. With a straightforward drum part, it’s easy to identify and mark transients, but with sustained material, or material that was not cut to a click track, the process of isolating rhythmically important values is far more difficult.

    Click on the attachment to see AudioSnap enabled for a drum loop from Discrete Drums. Note how there's a transient (the light gray line) drawn for every single drum transient; this is a case where transient detection works just about perfectly.

    However, not all clips are as cooperative. As a result, manual labor is involved with a lot of material. One thing that helps is adjusting the Threshold parameter with a mouse scroll wheel; it just seems easier than dragging the slider. But ultimately, with "problem" material, you have to tell Sonar which transients matter and which ones don't. For example, if the transient detection process is pretty good except for some extraneous transients that don't correspond to beats, you can disable those transients (they're never really deleted, just disabled so they don't have an effect).

    Another approach is if you're, for example, trying to quantize a clip to tempo. If you put transients at the beginning of each beat, it's easy to do this kind of quantization (we'll describe how to do that later on). However, it's unlikely you'll have only those transients; there will be plenty of others. So in this case, you can "promote" the transients that occur on the beat, then set a high threshold that ignores all the other transients (promoted transients are immune to threshold changes and are always in play).

    Yet another way to tweak transients is to simply add you own transients right on the beat; the AudioSnap palette has an Insert Transient Marker button.

    Now, all this may raise more questions than it answers. However, as we work through some examples in subsequent posts, it should all make sense. And if it doesn't...well, this is a Pro Review, ask your questions and things will be clarified.
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    • #17
      Let's try getting tempo to follow along with a groove, using the AudioSnap feature. Just to make things tough, I'm using a drum loop played by an Actual Human so there are some little variations and timing inconsistencies. The clip is 8 measures long.

      The first thing you do is right-click and select AudioSnap Enable. Fortunately, this clip has a prominent downbeat for each measure. What we'll do is "promote" each downbeat, then raise the threshold so that only the downbeat transient markers are active. If all goes according to plan, I should be able to then tell Sonar's tempo to sync up with these.

      BUT take it from me, the first thing you want to do is make sure that any tempo changes are erased, and you're dealing with "flat lined" tempo. We can add changes later if desired. If there are already tempo changes, AudioSnap can become hopelessly confused.

      So I played through the clip, identified the beats that fall at the beginning of each measure, right-clicked on each one, and selected "Promote." You can also just Ctrl-click all the ones you want to promote, and promote one of them to promote them all.

      Next I set the Threshold to 100%. This left only the "promoted" transients. Then I clicked on "Align Time Ruler." I decided to try the "Extract Timing" option, as the clip is pretty short and when this works, it's the fastest way to go. So I selected an "Expected Pulse Duration" of a whole note, but didn't check "Find a steady rhythm" because there's nothing much steadier than a transient at every measure. Click on the attachment to see how this was set up. Will it work? Let's click on "Extract Timing"...
      CHECK IT OUT: Lilianna!, my latest song, is now streamable from YouTube.

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      • #18
        Bingo! Click on the attachment to see what happened. All the time ruler measure indicators snapped right to the designated measure transients on the clip. Remember, there was no processing of the clip; the clip is the same, it's the tempo map that's changed to accommodate the clip.

        There's still a loose end: The clip doesn't end exactly at measure 9, which I'd like it to do. I tried just slip-editing the clip (without stretching) to the beginning of measure 9, but the little silent part was noticeable. We'll attempt to fix this in a minute, but first, let's take a look at exactly how Sonar 6 pinned the tempo to the clip.
        CHECK IT OUT: Lilianna!, my latest song, is now streamable from YouTube.

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        • #19
          Sonar 6 does this magic by altering the tempo map to "fudge" the tempo between designated transients. Click on the attachment to see the "post-pinned" tempo map. If there had been a transient at, say, every 1/4 note, then the tempo map would likely show smaller changes at every 1/4 note.

          Now let's see if we can fix that silent part at the end.
          CHECK IT OUT: Lilianna!, my latest song, is now streamable from YouTube.

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          • #20
            Okay, I tried a bunch of different stretching techniques to deal with that silence at the end, like splitting off just the end of the clip and trying to stretch it. But ultimately, what worked best was just zooming in really close on the tempo view, and adjusting the last tempo change until the end of the clip lined up exactly with the start of measure 9, then I added a very quick fade...problem solved.

            However, although we've proven a point here that you can match tempo to a clip, this isn't a very practical example in some ways. It would be very practical if the clip was an entire tune, because then we'd have a tempo map for the entire tune. But if we wanted to use that clip throughout a song, we would need to copy and paste the tempo map to go along with the clip.

            So, if we indeed wanted to use this clip throughout a song, it would make more sense to match the clip to the tempo. That way, we could just copy the clip over and over again, secure in the knowledge that it would line up with the project tempo. There's an easy way to do this that doesn't involve stretching.

            First off, because of the pinning-tempo-to-clip exercise we just did, we know the clip's tempo is somewhere around 122 BPM. So, we can "flat line" the tempo, and just tweak the tempo until the beginning of measure 9 lines up exactly with the end of the clip. As it turns out, a tempo of 122.02 causes the beginning of the clip to land at measure 1, beat 1, and the end of the clip to land on measure 9, beat 1. Perfect.

            Of course, this doesn't deal with any timing variations that occur within the clip, and suppose we want to use this loop with various electronica loops that have perfect timing. The fact this clip was played by a human creates some flams and inconsistencies that don't work with the "perfect" loops. We now have two choices: We can have the perfect loops follow the human one, or the other way around. For now, let's quantize the humanized loop and make it perfect.
            CHECK IT OUT: Lilianna!, my latest song, is now streamable from YouTube.

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            • #21
              We'll return to the original clip. The tempo is at 122.02, so the clip lasts exactly 8 measures. We'll re-enable AudioSnap, but this time, we want to catch all transients so they'll all be quatized to the quantization grid.

              As luck would have it, the drum hits are well-defined, and I only needed to disable one "false trigger" transient. You can check out the region (beat) between transients by placing the cursor on the transient (or using the Go to Next Transient/Go to Previous Transient buttons to land on a particular transient) then hitting the Audition Beat button. If you audition a beat and you hear an extra hit, you can add a transient at the extra hit. To trap a "false position," you can disable a transient marker and audition the beat that contains the disabled marker. If it's all one solid sound, leave the marker disabled.

              Once the transients are defined, you select the Quantize task, then under Actions, click on Quantize. A quantize dialog box comes up; click on the attachment to see how AudioSnap has been set up to do the quantizing operation. Note that the only element to be changed is AudioSnap beats.

              This particular clip was triplet-based, so I quantized to 8th note triplets. Now let's click on OK and............
              CHECK IT OUT: Lilianna!, my latest song, is now streamable from YouTube.

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              • #22
                Success! Click on the attachment to see how the transients are now totally lined up.

                At this point, we can select the Clip and render using the appropriate algorithm. I tried rendering with the iZotop Radius Mix algorithm, then undid that and tried the Percussion algorithm. The Percussion one definitely sounded better, so I stuck with that. At this point, the clip has been quantized and rendered, so AudioSnap is out of the picture.

                Now, the point of all this isn't to say that you should quantize the living daylights out of everything. The point is that you can if you want to.

                But what's more interesting is that you can also quantize to grooves, as well as change the groove of a quantized clip. Before signing off for today, let's take a look at how you can use AudioSnap to change the "feel" of a quantized loop.
                CHECK IT OUT: Lilianna!, my latest song, is now streamable from YouTube.

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                • #23
                  As we just created a perfectly quantized clip, let's "de-perfect" it.

                  The goal here is to lag the backbeat snare hits (the ones that land on the third beat of the measure) just a bit to give more of a laid-back feel. Again, this is a job for AudioSnap, but a fairly simple one.

                  Enable AudioSnap on the quantized clip, and turn up the transient sensitivity so there's a transient on at least the backbeat snare hits. Now all you have to do is grab a transient and move it where you want the note associated with it to move. Click on the attachment; note how the snare (indicated by the violet transient marker) was moved back a bit so it no longer falls exactly on beat 13, but hits a little bit late.
                  CHECK IT OUT: Lilianna!, my latest song, is now streamable from YouTube.

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                  • #24
                    Download the attachment to hear an excerpt from the quantized clip. Remember to change the extension from PHP to MP3 if necessary.
                    CHECK IT OUT: Lilianna!, my latest song, is now streamable from YouTube.

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                    • #25
                      Download the attachment to hear an excerpt from the clip where the backbeat snare lags slightly. Remember to change the extension from PHP to MP3 if necessary.
                      CHECK IT OUT: Lilianna!, my latest song, is now streamable from YouTube.

                      Subscribe, like, and share the links!

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                      • #26
                        So far, so good? Is this all making sense? Anything not clear?
                        CHECK IT OUT: Lilianna!, my latest song, is now streamable from YouTube.

                        Subscribe, like, and share the links!

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                        • #27
                          All clear here!

                          Thanks,
                          Tom

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                          • #28
                            Looking good, Craig.

                            For users who spend a lot of time with AudioSnap, I highly recommend you learn and use the various keyboard shortcuts listed below. They are sure to speed up the workflow, and you can use the key bindings feature to re-assign the shortcuts if desired (go to Options | Key Bindings and choose the "Track View" bind context).

                            AudioSnap Enable = F12
                            AudioSnap Add Transients To Pool = Ctrl+F12
                            AudioSnap Show Transient Markers = Shift+F12
                            AudioSnap Go to Next Transient Marker = Tab
                            AudioSnap Go to Previous Transient Marker = Shift+Tab
                            Set Measure/Beat at Now = Ctrl+M
                            AudioSnap Auto Stretch (Follow Tempo) = Alt+F12
                            AudioSnap Insert Marker = Ctrl+Alt+I
                            AudioSnap Reset Selected Transient Marker(s) = Ctrl+Alt+R
                            AudioSnap Delete Inserted Marker = Ctrl+Alt+Backspace
                            AudioSnap Disable Marker = Ctrl+Alt+D
                            AudioSnap Promote Marker = Ctrl+Alt+P
                            AudioSnap Snap to Transients = Ctrl+Alt+N
                            AudioSnap Audition Beat = Ctrl+Shift+Spacebar
                            AudioSnap Show Palette = Shift+A
                            AudioSnap Show Transient Pool = Ctrl+Alt+F12
                            AudioSnap Select All Markers = Alt+Shift+A
                            AudioSnap Clear Selection = Alt+Shift+C
                            AudioSnap Select Moved Markers = Alt+Shift+M
                            AudioSnap Select Stretched Markers = Alt+Shift+S
                            AudioSnap Select Disabled Markers = Alt+Shift+D
                            AudioSnap Select Enabled Markers = Alt+Shift+E
                            AudioSnap Select Promoted Markers = Alt+Shift+P

                            These default shortcuts are also listed in the online Help (Help | Keyboard Shortcuts).

                            Cheers,

                            Morten Saether [Cakewalk]

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                            • #29
                              Thanks Morten, that's useful info. I've learned some of them, but haven't committed them all to memory yet...
                              CHECK IT OUT: Lilianna!, my latest song, is now streamable from YouTube.

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                              • #30
                                Hi Craig,

                                Nice workflow cases.

                                What really excites me about this feature is the ability to breathe life into projects by giving robot drums some humanity. Sooo much nicer on the ears. We hear so much today on the radio that is locked mindlessly being quantized with all the life out of it that I can't even stand listening for more than 30 seconds. With this feature though, I've heard several projects from people using AudioSnap and you don't even realize that AudioSnap was used. It's just fun to listen to.

                                Now as far as your alignment with the end of the clip... There's a really easy way to nail that. Just make sure the snapper is set to clip, click the now time so it's right at the end of that clip. Then, use the Set Measure Beat at Now and type in the measure and beat it is. It will most likely even guess the right number from the get go. Then, you don't have to play with the tempo to get it to line up. Similarly, you could have done that by dragging the clip so it starts on the measure you want, use the Set Measure Beat at Now at the beginning of it to create a tempo anchor. Then, use the same command on the end, and you have an instant indication of the tempo for that clip. No guessing, back and forth, etc.

                                Oh yeah, almost forgot, you can use Set Measure Beat at Now with MIDI. So, that means you can freely play on your MIDI keyboard, then later go in and mark the measures and beats to line up the ruler. For some people/styles, it's way easier to do that than the Fit Improvisation method.

                                Enjoy!

                                Keith

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