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Automatic Beat Matching in Pro Tools

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With the introduction of Elastic Time, way back in Pro Tools 7.4, it was clear that Avid was taking a proactive stance against competing programs boasting easy to use, time compression/expansion based, automatic beat matching algorithms. Though it’s tough to say that Elastic Time is as easy to apply as similar functions in competing software applications (in particular, Ableton Live and Logic Pro), I can say, without a doubt, that it kicks butt in terms of its audio quality and the level of direct control you have over how the algorithm is processing your audio. It’s deep and offers a variety of ways to fine tune the processing, from multiple Elastic Audio “plug-ins” (Polyphonic, Rhythmic, Monophonic, and Varispeed), to individual control panels for each plug-in type, and the ability to freely edit Warp markers directly in the Edit window. Talk about control! Due to the simple fact that you have such a high degree of control over the Elastic Time processing, it requires a bit of homework to master, but once you do, you can achieve absolutely stunning results.

It’s important to note that Avid calls Elastic Audio a “plug-in”. However, it’s not applied in the way you’d normally think of a plug-in, as an insert on a mixer channel or an offline AudioSuite processor. Instead, it’s applied directly to a track in the Edit window, with its plug-in menu located just below the track’s Timebase selector.

ET Selector

Beat Matching Made Simple

Elastic Time is at its most intuitive when browsing for loops in the Workspace. Simply turn on the Audio Files Conform to Session Tempo button (it looks like the ticks metronome) in the Workspace, select one of the four plug-in types (they’re pretty self-explanatory), and when you click on a loop’s play button (the little speaker) the loop will be automatically analyzed and played back at your session’s tempo. You can even do this while your session is playing, allowing you to hear immediately whether the loop you’ve selected is a bang or a bust. Talk about optimizing your workflow! When you find the loop that you want, simply drag it into the Edit window and it will be deposited on a newly created ticks based audio track, and conformed to your session’s tempo. It doesn’t get much easier than this.

Workspace ET

A Note About REX Loops 

For those of you who are used to working with REX loops, it should be mentioned that with the introduction of Elastic Time, the Processing Preference setting, Import REX Files as Region Groups is off by default. So, if you’re wondering why when you drag in a REX file it doesn’t come in as a region group, mystery solved. To return to the old way of working with REX loops, make sure that the Processing Preference for Import REX Files as Region Groups is checked, as well as the REX and Acid Files Only selection for Drag and Drop from Desktop Conforms to Session Tempo. From the Workspace, you can also audition REX loops at your session tempo when the Audio Files Conform to Session Tempo button is on. And, if when you drag a REX loop from the Workspace into the Edit window, you want the REX loop to automatically conform to your session’s tempo, again, the Audio Files Conform to Session Tempo option must be enabled.

REX Import Preferences

About
Erik “Hawk” Hawkins is an EDM artist, producer, composer, remixer, label owner, and author. His music has been used by major television networks and film studios, including ABC, CBS, MTV, Nickelodeon, and New Line Cinema. His writing has appeared in top industry publications, including Electronic Musician, Mix, Remix, and Keyboard. He has authored several books, including tje Complete Guide to Remixing and Producing Drum Beats. His Berklee Online course, Programming and Producing Drum Beats, won an UPCEA Award in 2012. He also manages his own busy YouTube channels and has collected way too many vintage synths.
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