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Timing edits on bass

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Timing edits on bass

Postby Moon Raven » Mon Oct 07, 2019 8:42 pm

Hello, I am learning how to mix by following Mike Senior's "Mixing Secrets" book and trying stuff on various projects. I am currently stuck in fixing timing mistakes on bass instruments. I am unsure where exactly should I cut the audio, how to fill in the gaps and how to crossfade to make clicks as unaudible as possible. In essence, suppose I have the following three bass notes, and I want to shift the middle one so it begins later:

Image

Where exactly should I place the two cuts? I guess the first cut should be right before the second note's transient, but where should the second cut be? If I put it just before the third transient and move the whole second note to the right, I will overlap that transient. If I try to make the second cut earlier, I am unsure how earlier should I cut, and I do not know how to make the edit point not click. So basically, I tried something like this:

Image

And I have three issues:

1) I do not know how to fill/crossfade the gap circled in red
2) I do not know where exactly to put the second cut
3) I do not know how to crossfade the second cut to make it inaudible - there's always that annoying click no matter what I try (different crossfade lengths, matched waveform edits, etc.)

Any advice would be appreciated :)
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Re: Timing edits on bass

Postby CS70 » Mon Oct 07, 2019 10:46 pm

I've been doing quite a lot of this over the years. Any bass players who can nail then notes in the take are worth their weight in gold! :D

Jokes aside, the crucial thing is keeping the groove. Lots depends on the track.

In many busy mixes most of the groove is given by the attack and the body - if the decay (the final part of the note) is a little shorter often you can get away with it.

So mainly, align the attacks appropriately with the kick. Take the kick track just over the bass track, find a "good" part and observe the relationship between the kick hit and the bass note attack. That's how you want the rest of the notes to look. Align by eye, but then close your eyes and listen to song and the groove. It's crucial.

If the notes are too long, cut them until you can crossfade just a little bit - most DAW have automatic crossfade and nobody will be the wiser.

If the notes are too short (and the holes are too big to get away with them), your main tool is replacing with an equivalent note of the correct length taken from someplace else in the bass line. Alternatively, you can stretch. If your DAW doesn't have a stretching tool, you can chop off parts from the late "body" or "decay start" and simply crossfade them together - with bass frequencies it may work surprisingly well.. the trick is to find a small part of the sound completely devoid of any attack and sloping down very little, to avoid a machine gun effect.

If you have to do a lot of this, however, it's much better and easier to replay the part, or use a bass synth triggered by the actual attack. I have replaced my fair share of bass lines in many productions.

In case you cut, make absolutely sure you always fade out every clip end - just a few milliseconds is enough - otherwise you're pretty sure you're gonna have clipping issues... bass has a lot of energy and a converter that has to go down to 0 from anything more than a couple dBs in a single sample, will most likely distort.

Finally, test by pumping up the low end (or simply temporarily hi pass the song). You want to make sure that also in a powerful low-end playback system your bass doesn't sound odd.
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Re: Timing edits on bass

Postby scw » Mon Oct 07, 2019 10:46 pm

Hi Moon Raven

This is my own method and others may have better suggestions.

I use Cubase Pro 10 and the specific methods available to you will depend on which DAW you use.

For situations as you described where the odd note needs adjusted I make the cut just before the successive new note transients in the audio track. I can then move the entire note to fix the timing issue.
Once I line up the adjusted note I select the audio parts and click "shift X" which crossfades the edits at a zero point crossing on the waveform to avoid any audible audio click.

If you want to adjust the timing of a longer section of audio you can use quantising with audio warp or hitpoints in the sample editor.

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Re: Timing edits on bass

Postby James Perrett » Mon Oct 07, 2019 10:53 pm

If that is Reaper then I would put the cursor at the start of each of those three notes in turn and hit Shift W to place a stretch marker. I would then move the middle stretch marker to where you want the note to start. The first note will be lengthened while the second note will be shortened. If you hear artefacts like warbling on the note you could try changing the algorithm used by pressing F2 and choosing a different one in the pitch shifting section about half way down.
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Re: Timing edits on bass

Postby The Elf » Tue Oct 08, 2019 9:06 am

Cubase even has a tool for doing this automatically, cutting ahead of the note and cross-fading and entire part with a couple of clicks. You can define the amount of 'pre-cut' and the type of cross-fade.

That said, with bass it's often almost as easy, but a bit more flexible, to do some cuts on the note and simply shift the start/end points and apply cross-fades manually.
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Re: Timing edits on bass

Postby Moon Raven » Wed Oct 09, 2019 5:10 pm

Thanks a lot for the replies! It's nice to know that there is a community I can ask for advice when I get stuck :)

CS70 wrote:I've been doing quite a lot of this over the years. Any bass players who can nail then notes in the take are worth their weight in gold! :D

Jokes aside, the crucial thing is keeping the groove. Lots depends on the track.

In many busy mixes most of the groove is given by the attack and the body - if the decay (the final part of the note) is a little shorter often you can get away with it.

So mainly, align the attacks appropriately with the kick. Take the kick track just over the bass track, find a "good" part and observe the relationship between the kick hit and the bass note attack. That's how you want the rest of the notes to look. Align by eye, but then close your eyes and listen to song and the groove. It's crucial.

If the notes are too long, cut them until you can crossfade just a little bit - most DAW have automatic crossfade and nobody will be the wiser.

If the notes are too short (and the holes are too big to get away with them), your main tool is replacing with an equivalent note of the correct length taken from someplace else in the bass line. Alternatively, you can stretch. If your DAW doesn't have a stretching tool, you can chop off parts from the late "body" or "decay start" and simply crossfade them together - with bass frequencies it may work surprisingly well.. the trick is to find a small part of the sound completely devoid of any attack and sloping down very little, to avoid a machine gun effect.

If you have to do a lot of this, however, it's much better and easier to replay the part, or use a bass synth triggered by the actual attack. I have replaced my fair share of bass lines in many productions.

In case you cut, make absolutely sure you always fade out every clip end - just a few milliseconds is enough - otherwise you're pretty sure you're gonna have clipping issues... bass has a lot of energy and a converter that has to go down to 0 from anything more than a couple dBs in a single sample, will most likely distort.

Finally, test by pumping up the low end (or simply temporarily hi pass the song). You want to make sure that also in a powerful low-end playback system your bass doesn't sound odd.

I might try that synth replacement thingy - sounds complicated at first, but I guess it is easier if there are many changes to be made!

scw wrote:Hi Moon Raven

This is my own method and others may have better suggestions.

I use Cubase Pro 10 and the specific methods available to you will depend on which DAW you use.

For situations as you described where the odd note needs adjusted I make the cut just before the successive new note transients in the audio track. I can then move the entire note to fix the timing issue.
Once I line up the adjusted note I select the audio parts and click "shift X" which crossfades the edits at a zero point crossing on the waveform to avoid any audible audio click.

If you want to adjust the timing of a longer section of audio you can use quantising with audio warp or hitpoints in the sample editor.

Stewart

I hear what you are saying, and that is what I tried to achieve in the screenshot that I posted. If I understood you correctly, you put the crossfade at the point I circled in blue. But what can I do at the 'gap' which is circled in red? I cannot crossfade because the two clips are apart from each other. I will repost the image here just in case:
Image

James Perrett wrote:If that is Reaper then I would put the cursor at the start of each of those three notes in turn and hit Shift W to place a stretch marker. I would then move the middle stretch marker to where you want the note to start. The first note will be lengthened while the second note will be shortened. If you hear artefacts like warbling on the note you could try changing the algorithm used by pressing F2 and choosing a different one in the pitch shifting section about half way down.

I heard ugly artifacts with most algorithms, which is why I thought manual cutting and crossfading is the cleaner way to go :(
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Re: Timing edits on bass

Postby scw » Wed Oct 09, 2019 10:29 pm

What DAW are you using?
Depending on the size of the break the crossfade will "bridge" the gap. I would apply the crossfades at the red and blue areas after adjusting the timing
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Re: Timing edits on bass

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Wed Oct 09, 2019 10:48 pm

Moon Raven wrote:... But what can I do at the 'gap' which is circled in red? I cannot crossfade because the two clips are apart from each other.

You can either stretch the preceding clip to fill the gap, or you can find a similar piece of audio and copy and paste it into the gap, tweaking the cross-fades as necessary to make it sound seamless.

James Perrett wrote:I would put the cursor at the start of each of those three notes in turn and hit Shift W to place a stretch marker.

I'd advise caution about stretching the starting transient of the note, as that affects both the attack and timbre of the bass. Better, in my experience, to stretch just the decay tail which can usually be done with fewer audible side effects.

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Re: Timing edits on bass

Postby Moon Raven » Wed Oct 09, 2019 11:01 pm

I am using Ableton Live. I can fade out each clip individually of course, like this:

Image

But I cannot crossfade them. What would crossfading mean actually in terms of volume envelopes, if there is a gap in the middle?
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Re: Timing edits on bass

Postby CS70 » Thu Oct 10, 2019 1:15 pm

If what you show (the two clips with the gap with fade out and in) is the correct timing, that's just the thing.

However: not sure about the scale of your screenshot, but the fades seem a bit long? Out/in fades which are made to avoid clicks are usually very short, mush shorter than a quarter note length. At an insane 326 BPM , a quarter note is about 184 milliseconds. At a regular 120, it's 500 milliseconds.

At 44.1KHz you have 44100 samples per second, thus 5 milliseconds are about 220 samples, which is a large enough amount for your average DA converter to go from whatever amplitude to zero or vice versa. So the fade ins/outs can be much smaller than a quarter note. With long fade ins and outs you risk to really change the character of the phrase played.

I don't know how crossfades are made in Ableton, but in other DAWs they can be set to happen automatically when you move clips to slightly overlap each other.
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Re: Timing edits on bass

Postby Moon Raven » Thu Oct 10, 2019 2:15 pm

Ah, I think it is clear to me now. Yes, in Ableton it is the same when the clips are overlapping, but this situation with the gap between two clips was confusing me (the clips are not overlaping in that situation, so there is no crossfade).

So if I understood correctly, when I have a gap, I should just fade out the previos clip and fade in the next clip, and it will work fine (keeping in mind that the fades should be as short as possible as you said)?
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Re: Timing edits on bass

Postby CS70 » Thu Oct 10, 2019 2:16 pm

Yes :thumbup:
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