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Optimizing for Drum Replacement

Yesterday’s Tech Tip of the Day talked about cleaning up a kick drum track riddled with bleed. One option we suggested was drum replacement. Here are some tips for optimizing a track for use with a drum replacement plug-in:

  • Clean out bleed. Take a careful listen through the raw track to look for serious bleed from other drums, instruments, or vocals that might accidentally trigger the drum replacement plug-in. In most cases, what the plug-in needs is a simple attack from the original track to trigger the sample, so you can be pretty ruthless in your editing.

  • In some cases, a gate instantiated before the drum replacement plug-in can help provide clean track from which the replacer can trigger.
  • EQ can be your friend, both for taming bleed and for bringing out the attack portion of the raw drum hits to make them better triggers.
  • Optimize the track volume feeding the plug-in. Sometimes compressing the raw track will provide a more consistent trigger for drum replacement. Other times, trimming or boosting the level of the raw track will help the replacer function well.
  • While you can leave the drum replacement plug-in to operate in real time while you are mixing, we’ve had better luck recording the output from the drum replacement plug-in to a new track as audio. This allows you to go in after the fact and edit the replaced track using your DAW’s audio tools. It also allows you to easily blend the samples from the replacer with the original track, which can be more natural sounding in some cases.

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