The Beginner’s Guide to Slip Editing Drums
So you want to master the art of drum editing, huh? Whether you’re a complete beginner to drum editing and mixing or you’re someone that’s been doing it for a while and looking for new techniques to improve your workflow, knowing how to slip edit drums is an essential skill that I recommend learning.
Being able to slip edit drums the right way means you’re able to essentially shorten or lengthen hits in a manner that’s virtually undetectable – something our analog forefathers wish they had the ability to do.
Regardless of if you’re someone that goes bar-by-bar, hit-by-hit, or just someone that prefers to edit drums loosely when they hear something that sounds off, slip editing will be a great addition to your drum-editing arsenal.
Why Slip Editing Is So Important
Look – I know we focus on the time-saving efforts that a lot of plugins and digital editing in general gives us, but I cannot overstate how effective slip editing is in this space. Rather than spending hours re-tracking drums that are just about perfect or relying on the drummer to play their parts with robotic accuracy, we can just slip the hits that are slightly off the grid back in-time with slip editing.
This frees up time and energy, not just for yourself, but for the artists you’re working with as well. Albums can be recorded and mixed in less time because there isn’t such a dependence on the perfect drum take. In the studio, this means you can get by with a few very close takes rather than spending an entire day trying to get the perfect one. It means that time and creativity can go into other aspects of the song like recording vocals or guitar overdubs.
Am I saying you shouldn’t care about the quality of your drum recordings? Absolutely not.
Instead, shift your focus to the quality of the tracks being recorded. Slip editing allows you to focus on the sounds being captured by the mics, the phase between them, and most importantly, the overall sound of your drum in the room. The actually timing of the performance slides down the list quite a ways; a close-to-the-grid performance with perfect recording technique is exactly what you’ll need for slip editing to work its best.
Group, Cut & Slip
When it’s your time to start slip editing, you need to remember these three basic principles of the process: group, cut & slip.
Start by grouping your drum tracks together, and make sure they stay that way throughout the process. Often a new engineer or drum editor will think they can spot treat a single drum hit by nudging a snare by a split second without anyone noticing. In reality, the snare track alone doesn’t make up the entirety of the snare’s sound. You’ve got bleed from other mics (not to mention the room mics & overheads) to account for.
Instead of editing the snare track in isolation, keep your drums grouped together through the entire process. When you slip the snare that was off into place, the rest of your drum tracks, bleed and all, will fall into line.
With your drums grouped, it’s time to make slices or cuts in your audio tracks so your can start shifting them around. Make your cuts just ahead of the grid to give yourself some room to work with. Then, all that’s left to do is to drag your drum hit with slip mode enabled to “slip” the drum hits into the right place. Check out this video guide as I slip edit some drums in real-time in Cubase:
See how easy the process can be? It might take a bit of getting used to at first, but a good drum editor using this process can knock out timing corrections in minutes – not hours. Give it a try in your next session and see how it goes!
Mixing Perfectly Edited Drums
Alright – you’ve got your perfectly edited, time-aligned drums, now do you know how to mix them in a way that keeps every hit punchy and present? Drum mixing has changed a lot over the years and today, there’s no room for muddiness in a drum mix.
If you’re interested in perfecting your drum mix techniques, make sure you check out our Taking Control of Your Drum Mix eBook. Inside, you’ll learn the anatomy of your drum kit, find out what it takes to build a drum mix from the ground up, and even get our exclusive Drum Mix Checklist - an essential quick reference guide to help guide your decisions while working with drums.