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I am currently working with Reaper to record my audio tracks (guitar, bass and vocals). I frequently use drum tracks to play more precise than with a metronome, but I think it's still not "tight" enough.

I stumbled upon the term "quantization", which describes the process of re-arranging music based on beats, but I don't really know how it works and how I can use it. I know that Pro Tools has a quantization tool for MIDI tracks.

However, I want to know if it's possible to quantize in Reaper, but for recordings (maybe in sync with MIDI drum tracks), or is that impossible, even with Pro Tools?

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If it's easier to quantize with Pro Tools, I would like to know how to do it and eventually switch to that DAW :) –  muffin Sep 1 '14 at 6:50
Another option is to practice some more ;). Quantization is the killer of music. –  Meaningful Username Sep 1 '14 at 9:46
I know that practice makes perfect, I practice my tracks a lot! ;) But I usually have to keep up two guitars and one bass in sync with a drum track which can take a lot of time, especially if you find a misplaced millisecond afterwards. My goal is to get a tight sound between the guitars and the drums. I would audio quantize for very small details only. –  muffin Sep 1 '14 at 9:56
@JCPedroza: Most things are subjective when it comes to music. Tight is good, mechanical is bad in my mind. The concept of tightness has gone to ridiculous levels due to the availability of these types of tricks. Now I'll try to step down from the soapbox and stop messing up this question... –  Meaningful Username Sep 1 '14 at 11:11
@leftaroundabout If overdone it can have that effect, it all depends on the amount: the amount of quantization that preserves some of the original randomness from the execution or the amount of randomness added to a perfect quantization, which would induce randomness similar to the one found in a good performance. You don't want to go full random and put everything all over the place, the point is to emulate the randomness of a very good player, not a drunk one. The point of the quantization is to improve the timing, not worsen it. –  JCPedroza Nov 16 '14 at 2:26

2 Answers 2

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Yes, it is possible to audio quantize in Reaper and all popular DAWs.

In general you'll find two different approaches to audio quantize (or a combination of): with or without time stretching. The best results will depend in the material you are modifying. Without time stretching (which is nothing more than cutting a piece of audio and putting it somewhere else) tends to work better with percussions. Time stretching works better with sounds with larger decay and/or sustain, since no time stretching would leave audible cuts.

You can do both approaches manually (and some people do!), so the question is if your DAW has tools to automate the process, and which approaches are available.

In Reaper you use a combination of Dynamic Split and Quantize tools. You first split the audio into sections based on its transients, and then align them in relation to a time grid. This is a no time stretch approach.

Seems that it has its issues, though. From

Natively Reaper has rather poorly implemented audio quantization functionality. However when used in conjunction with the recommended tools below, you'll get a fully functional way of doing this.

I haven't worked a lot with Reaper, so I don't know if it has an automated time-stretch-based quantize tool or how good its time stretching algorithm(s) is(are).

Other DAWs offer other alternatives/approaches. Pro Tools' Beat Detective and Logic's Flex Time are some examples.

Some notes if you are still in the "choosing a DAW" stage.

As time stretching affects the timbre of the source, an important detail when choosing a DAW is its time stretching algorithms (which can be used to quantize, among other things). How many algorithms can I choose from? How good are those algorithms? How much control do I have over them? Can I time stretch quantize without noticeably affecting the source's timbre? To which extent (since the larger the stretch, the larger the timbre change)?

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learn about beatmapping and the beatmapper wizard in SONY ACID great for me! Stretch and fold your drum tracks to match the metronome and presto you can record other tracks onto it with ease!

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