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How To Edit Drums With Beat Detective

Hi, it’s Warren Huart here. Hope you’re doing marvelously well today. I’d like to talk about drum editing, and show you the way that I edit drums using the wonderful world of Beat Detective.

Now, we’ve recorded drums with the great Greg D’Angelo the other day on a song that I co-wrote and I’m producing by an artist called Alexx Calise. So let’s edit it and create some rock and roll history.

So let’s open Beat Detective and go to Event, go down the menu here, you’ll see Beat Detective. Here it is!

Now what I always do, and I strongly advise that you do, is I save a duplicate copy of my drums. So this was the fifth take, you’ll see it’s 05, 05 here, and I’m going to duplicate it. We punched into this take, this was the one we loved.

Now I have a duplicate, and six is going to be my edit. So if I ever want to go back to five and see where I came from, I can do it.

Okay, so let’s do a couple of things. We’re in Grid here. So let’s go to Grid. We’re setup for one bar at the moment. Let’s go to eighth notes. There’s probably sections of the song that might be a little bit more complicated than that, but we’ll get to them when we get to them.

So we’ll start off in eighth note. So what I would suggest then, when editing, is that you put the key elements at the top. So it could be kick, snare, rack underneath, and then floor. I don’t always edit the hi-hat super tight. It really depends on the pattern. If you get so tight, it can end up sounding like a machine, and it doesn’t have any groove or swing. There’s no right way or wrong way to do that, but let’s start by not editing the hi-hat type, and just stick with the kick, the snare, and the toms.

At the moment, there is no rack tom playing, so don’t be afraid to — you know, just concentrate on areas.

Okay. So this is what I mean. So we’ve opened up Beat Detective. We’ve got — let’s take a section of say, four bars. Here’s six bars in total. We’ve started a bar before the down beat of the verse. I have suspended the groups. The way to suspend groups is to go Shift+Command+G. You see over here, see where it says drums? The groups are highlighted at the moment. They’re grey.

If I suspend them, Shift+Command+G, they go to light grey. Now, why you might ask am I doing that? Well I’m doing that so that I can select just pieces of the drums. So I’m going to select this section here, these six bars, and I’m going to take the kick, the snare, and the floor only. What I’m doing is I highlighted a section here, like this, I held shift down, and I clicked down like this.

You see it’s highlighted those three tracks only. Now, the reason I’m only highlighting those three tracks is because I want to just see the transients. The peaks, the front of those waveforms only. What there may be in the overheads, or the snare bottom, or other, or room mics, or whatever, what there might be is confusing transients, and those confusing transients might give me loads of additional edit points which I don’t care about. What I care about is those specific transients from the kick, the snare, and the floor. There’s no rack here, so I don’t need to do that.

So here’s the important thing. So hit “Capture Selection,” and you’ll see it’s got a start beat of 5|1 and an end beat of 11|1. If you look up here, it says “Start” and “End.” So that’s our edit selection here, corresponds with our Beat Detective selection.

Those two numbers there, the Start and End times need to be the same. If they’re not the same, you can edit it, and then when you hit Conform, they’ll go all over the place.

Okay, so first thing, I go to Clip Selection. So I’ve selected those clips. My start times and my end times are the same. I’m going to eighth note here for the selection. There’s not a triplet feel. It’s not one, two, three, jah, boom, bah. It’s just, you know, it’s all straight eighth notes.

Okay, so let us hit the Capture Selection. Okay, and analyze. It’s analyzing. And pretty good! About 49% here. Let’s take down the sensitivity. See, it’s dropped. That one little tiny transient that wasn’t of any good. There’s another one here. See where I’m hovering? Let’s pull that down and see if that disappears as well.

That looks pretty darn good. So we’ve got the kick, we’ve got the snare, and we’ve got the floor. We don’t seem to have any extraneous edit points at all there.

Okay, and now what I do is I un-suspend my groups. So Shift+Command+G. Then I hold Shift, I click below, and there all of the drums now have appeared in that group.

Now let’s hit Separate. Great.

Now something you may have noticed that I forgot to mention is that I have a trigger pad here. Now you might ask, “What is the trigger pad?” It is really important.

The trigger pad is where the edit point happens. So I’ve just edited. Let’s zoom in on the front of this first edit. If you see here, this is my edit point, but this is where the cut happened. The cut happened as much as 15 milliseconds in front. Sometimes I do five, sometimes I do ten, sometimes I do 15. But I’m going to use the biggest one here at the moment, and the only reason I’ve gone this far is because there’s not really a very super super fast part. If we’re doing sixteenth or thirty-second notes, then obviously five milliseconds would make more sense.

The reason why this is in is so that the cut point isn’t exactly where the edit point is, because if there’s a random hi-hat laying over the front of this transient, and I didn’t have a trigger pad, what would happen is it would cut here, and then a little piece of the hi-hat might end up landing — you know, miles away from the edit point. So it’s really important that you put at least a five millisecond trigger pad. So make sure there’s at least a five millisecond trigger pad.

The other thing is I have selected sub beats just in case. You know, there’s parts outside of the eighth note. But anyway.

So now, we’ve cut it, we’ve edited it. Let’s go to clip conform. Here’s the strength.

Now, you can adjust the strength. We can make this 100%. Let’s do 100% and that will make every one of these cut points land on the grid. But you can bring that back if you’re just trying to roughly correct and bring things in, and not trying to grid it as such, you could bring that back, but just for our purposes here, we’re going to make it 100%.

Okay. So now, we can hear it conform. Look, there we go. Everything is now edited to those grid lines.

Okay, great. So let’s give it a listen. I’m going to put on the headphones, and let’s see how it sounds.

[drums and click]

Listening there, you could hear kind of the drop out between the edit points. That is not a problem. I want to hear it against the click feeling tight before I smooth it, because the last thing I want to do is smooth it and then have to undo it. That sounded pretty darn tight to me, so I go to Edit, Smoothing…


I personally do this. I just do the fill gaps, first of all. I do the fades at the end after I’ve edited all the drums. So let’s just hit Fill Gaps.

There. Filled everything. So let’s give it another listen.

[drums and click]


Okay, so that is my process. I go through the whole track like that. I’m going to move on. Obviously, I would edit big chunks. I like to do, like, sixteen or thirty-two bars. I never do the whole song, because there’s too much detail work.

Once you’re swift at doing this, you can move through this song in twenty minutes, half an hour. It takes a bit of time, but once you get good at it, you’ll move through it really, really quickly, but I don’t like to do the full song, because it takes longer to go back and correct little bits and pieces than it is to do it right in the first place, frankly.

So we’ve done that first five or six bars. Let’s move on and do a slightly bigger chunk.

Now, what I’ve done here — you can see that the transient here on the front of the kick has been covered over by the edit we just did. So we’re going to go into Slip — so let’s click Slip up here — we’re in drum group here. Let’s go to this tool here, the Trim Tool and pull out to the front of that section like so.

You see, I’m trimming to the front of the kick. Let’s go up to about here. I can tab to transient. Cut, highlight the whole region, go Command+0. That is Snap to Grid. So I go Command+0 and boom. The front of that transient now is on the front of there.

A couple of things. There’s a little overlap here, so let’s just trim that back. Back into Slip. So now there won’t be a double transient. That’s really important. If you left it in, you’re going to get a double transient, and you don’t want that.

Cool. So back to grid. Look at this, there really is just a kick and a snare part. It’s pretty straight forward. There’s a hat, but we’re not going to edit that tight unless it becomes an issue. We’re going to let it swing.

So here we go. Go out of group again. Shift+Command+G. Highlight the kick and snare. Let’s take that section there. Okay, so this is 11|1 and 15|1. To capture selection, Clip Separation here, Capture Selection, analyze, and look at that.

The setting we had on the previous bars are at 43% has done us well again. So now we can go Shift+Command+G, bring the group back in, click here while holding Shift down, and with that, hit Separate. Go to Clip Conform, hit Conform down here.

Look at that. Another section. Let’s give it a listen.

[drums and click]

Great. So once you burn through the whole song, you know, once Fill Gaps has been done and all that, then you can do Fill and Crossfade.

Now, let’s just pretend we’ve got the whole song here. We spent the next ten minutes going through it. This is what I always do. I’ve got a playlist that’s unedited. I’ve got a playlist that’s now edited, but I do not put fades on this one. I do this. I keep this so I can see where all my edit points are, and I hit duplicate. Then I duplicate this. If this was the finished drum track, then on this third playlist, you’ve got original, edited, and the third one is where I put my fades in. Then I’ll hit smooth, and it will go through and it will put fades in all of those like so.

If this were a finished drum track, obviously there’s still a few more minutes work, but if it was, then I would hit Shift+Option+3, and that consolidates. See? It’s consolidated.

So we’ve got an original, unedited playlist of the drums, we’ve got an edited playlist of the drums, and we’ve got a faded and consolidated edit — playlist of the drums.

So if there’s any issues and it doesn’t feel good, I can go back to number five, which is the original drum part, or I can go to six and figure out what the edit was, and if I made a mistake, or Beat Detective didn’t see the right transient. I can easily correct it. It’s all there.

So it’s just good to be methodical and to make sure that you don’t want to tie yourself in knots, because obviously the original audio will always exist, but you’re going to have to go back and find it, if you don’t have a saved session file, then you’re going to have to reimport the audio. There’s a lot of pitfalls that could happen.

So just to make your life easy, have three sets of playlists. The original, edit, and edited, faded, and consolidated.

Let’s have a listen to that and see how clean it sounds.

[drums and click]


So please hit me up with any questions below regarding the drum editing lesson here. I’d love to answer any questions. Subscribe and also, if you go to, you can sign up for our e-mail list, and I will be sending you these drum tracks. You’ll be getting a link where you can download these drum tracks, and you can do your own editing, and then if you have questions, we’ll both be looking at the same session.

So thanks ever so much for watching. I really appreciate your time, and giving me the opportunity to impart the information that I have gathered over the years from working with so many talented musicians and producers myself.

Thanks for watching, and I look forward to seeing you again soon!


Warren Huart

Warren Huart

Warren Huart is an English record producer/musician/composer and recording engineer based in Los Angeles, California. Learn more at

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