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'Flex' for fixing live drums multitracks. [SOLVED]


Joelonsdale

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Hi. I have just finished a five song EP with live drums - I manually edited all the drums for timing as usual - they are well recorded, well played, to-click and very in-time so it was just a general polish rather than a repair job. I spent about half a day trying to figure out Flex once and for all - hoping it may save me hours of work but it just made the drums sound badly edited and strange, so in the end I retired, hurt. I watched numerous YouTube videos and thought it looked pretty easy, but FAIL. So here's what I did:

 

1) Labelled and colour coded all my drum files;

2) Grouped the drum tracks in the mixer with EDIT/PHASE checked;

3) Swipe-comped the various drum takes;

4) Flatten and merge the final comp;

5) Enable FLEX;

6) Set the arrange page FLEX mode to SLICE - Logic has a think;

7) Double clicked on the kick drum audio to open in audio editor and used +/- to get about the right degree off detection;

8 ) Hit quantise 16ths/50%;

9) Logic has a think;

10) Drums sound BAD;

11) Self harm.

 

I couldn't get my head round what the issue was, but it seemed to stretch/expand the audio, even though SLICE was selected and it made the cymbals and room mics sound really truly odd. It didn't really seem to be particularly 'fixed' - I guess I was expecting, at worst, a robotically precise but hideous sounding drum track, but I just got a hideous sounding drum track with no particular improvement in timing. Choosing the other FLEX modes just made things worse (TEMPOPHONE was hilarious)

 

So, A) is there something wrong or missing in my method; B) something iffy in my version of LogicPro9 C) No hope for people like me.

 

Also, strategy wise, should I be basing my slicing decisions on the kick/snare close mics or is there something about FLEX that renders this of 'strategy' stuff irrelevant?

 

I really wish Logic would run some courses specifically geared around common tasks like Beat-Detective-type work, deep MIDI editing etc... :mrgreen:

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Did you start by checking the position of your transients in the sample editor? See "Using Transient Markers to Edit in the Sample Editor" a little further down the page on Audio Editing and Processing in the Sample Editor

 

Also, did you select specific tracks to be Q-references? Quantizing Phase-Locked Audio Tracks

 

Choosing the other FLEX modes just made things worse (TEMPOPHONE was hilarious)

Slicing mode really is the flex mode of choice for drums. And Tempophone is supposed to be hilarious: "Tempophone flex mode emulates the effect of a historical tape-based time-stretching device known as a tempophone, and results in a mechanical sound with many artifacts similar to those produced with granular synthesis techniques. It is intended to be used creatively for special effects."

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7) Double clicked on the kick drum audio to open in audio editor and used +/- to get about the right degree off detection;

 

"about the right degree of detection" is not good enough. You need to be certain that whichever track you use as Q-reference has its transient markers right.

 

You should also uncheck "Fill Gaps" in Slicing mode for best results with multitrack drums.

 

Here's the official guide, just in case:

 

http://support.apple.com/kb/HT3656

 

J.

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Man, you guys are good. Okay. I will set aside another half-day next week to get this thing nailed, as I suspect, once I have cracked it, it's going to change my life or at least speed it up so I can get home earlier! So to adjust my list:

 

1) Label and colour code all drum files (assuming you didn't record them in Logic)

2) Group the drum tracks in the mixer with EDIT/PHASE checked;

3) Swipe-comp the various drum takes;

4) Flatten and merge the final comp;

5) Enable FLEX;

6) Set the arrange page FLEX mode to SLICE - Logic has a think;

7) Uncheck 'fill gaps'

8) Select the best tracks to use as your Q reference tracks (probably kick/snare close mics as a starter?)

9) Double clicked on the kick drum audio to open in audio editor and used +/- to get the BEST degree of detection;

10 ) Hit quantise or make manual fixes etc

11) Logic has a think;

12) Drums sound Amazing;

13) Knock off early.

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8) Select the best tracks to use as your Q reference tracks (probably kick/snare close mics as a starter?)

Most probably yes, but sometimes just kick is enough, other times, kick, snare and hi-hat, etc... depending on the drums.

 

9) Double clicked on the kick drum audio to open in audio editor and used +/- to get the BEST degree of detection;

Click the link I shared with you earlier in that thread on transient editing. There's more to it than just using the +/- buttons: you may need to delete, create or move some transients manually until absolutely ALL your drum hits have one transient, and one transient only.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Okay - I did it - I f***ing did it! I had a few hours today to prepare the drum tracks for Flex and it works! I deselected 'Q' on all except the snare (top) and kick (in) track, spent a few minutes in the sample editor perfecting the transient-detection using the pencil and eraser and then hit Quantise - OH YEAH

 

I used Slice mode as advised. When I un-checked 'fill gaps' I can hear the gaps (obviously!) so why, as suggested above, would I do this? Are you suggesting I fill the gaps myself somehow?

 

Anyway, it's been a revelation - glad I finally dived in. Many thanks to David and Jordito for steering me in the right direction and not cussing me down for being such a moron! Now to drum replace his hideous sounding drums and replace the room with BFD - HA! :mrgreen:

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I used Slice mode as advised. When I un-checked 'fill gaps' I can hear the gaps (obviously!) so why, as suggested above, would I do this? Are you suggesting I fill the gaps myself somehow?

IMO slicing mode usually sounds better with fill gaps deselected even if you can hear the gaps. Typically once you unsolo your drums and listen to them in the context of the whole song, and with their reverb etc... you don't hear those gaps anymore. Fill gaps means the computer somehow adds material that wasn't there to start with which creates artifacts.

 

Anyway, it's been a revelation - glad I finally dived in. Many thanks to David and Jordito for steering me in the right direction and not cussing me down for being such a moron! Now to drum replace his hideous sounding drums and replace the room with BFD - HA! :mrgreen:

Great! Glad to hear. :)

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  • 1 year later...

So, can I NOT use flex time without first swipe comping and then flattening the tracks? I've got seven drum tracks, with 12 takes each; I've swipe comped them, and then I went in to do some flex time work and noticed that only ONE track was being affected by the manual timing change that I made. Shouldn't they all change if I have the Editing (Selection) button checked off?

 

Also, I'm curious as to your methodology regarding swipe comping, then flattening. Do you save a different copy of the file and then flatten and continue? I'm concerned that I'd miss something in the comping phase and then not be able to get it back later on. Thanks.

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Hi Sculley. Although this is a SOLVED thread, I thought I would quickly share my experience of Flex with you. I believe you CAN do FLEX before you flatten your comp, but I think you should commit to a performance first or you are going to get tangled in knots and are inviting Logic to mess up your audio (which it can in my experience). I got really good at using Flex to fix drums after this thread, but was never particularly happy with the results and there were often weird artifacts that couldn't be assigned to anything I had done - in other words: a bug, a glitch, something weird. I found editing the drums manually much better - I have more control, there are little or no audible artifacts, there are no glitches or errors and by the time you have set flex up, I am half way through a manual drum fix anyway.
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Thanks for the input. I guess at this point I'd like to figure out how to at least save the tracks I do have in case I have an mistake in my comp, and I'd like to save them anyways regardless. Also, I'm probably going manually edit my drums because I've found that lining everything up to a grid loses something and it feels wrong. There are certainly times where I can hear that things are off, but for the most part I'd rather keep the human feel of the whole thing.
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Save with a different file-name before each major decision and name them appropriately - for instance, save a copy called DRUMS UNEDITED before you start Flexing/editing and then save again as DRUM FIXING before proceeding. You can always go back to the other version if things go bad!
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