How To Separate Sidesticks From Snare Hits Using Strip Silence

Snare hits vs. Side sticks

Sometimes when you are mixing a great song, you want certain parts of the drums to be louder than the drummer played them. In this case, I wanted a drummers side stick to really “sing” in the track. I liked the amount of natural sounding compression that I had on the snare. I also wanted to keep the automation lanes of the snare open… I don’t like to automate snare drums because I’m usually adjusting levels right down to the last second of the mix and automation just gets in the way of me being free to change my mind without too much trouble.

In the pictures below, I want to show you how to use Pro tools Strip Silence feature to easily and quickly separate the rimshot or sidestick from a snare drum

How To Separate Sidesticks from Snare Hits with Strip Silence

Duplicate the Track

The first thing we need to do is to duplicate the snare track. You can do this by right-clicking the name of the track in the edit window. This menu should pop up. Click Duplicate.

How to duplicate a track in pro tools

Don’t duplicate Active Playlists or Automation

After you click “duplicate”, this menu should appear. Since we are only interested in keeping the inserts, the routing, reverb sends etc., we will un-check Active Playlist, Alternate Playlists, and Automation. I also like for the track to appear just underneath the track that I’m duplicating, so I check “insert after last selected track. Now, press OK.

Duplicate Active Playlists or Automation

Rename Your track

Be sure and name your new track something that’s easy to recognize on your screen. I am naming my new track Sidestick. Other things I’ve named tracks like this… stick, stix rim… When your tracks squeezed together in the mix window and the full name doesn’t appear, a shorter name like rim will serve you well.

Rename tracks in Pro Tools

View of the snare track

The picture below shows the Snare track with two different volume levels. I’ll only be showing one part in this demonstration. Notice that the new blank track with all the correct assignments is now waiting for us to put the rim or sidestick track.

View of the track

Select and Separate the Rim from the Snare

Select the sidestck section from before the first sidestick is played up to where the first snare is played. No need to be super accurate here. We are going to let Strip Silence do the heavy lifting for us. When you get the track selected, press Command-E to separate this region.

Select and Separate the Rim from the Snre

Option Drag to Drag a Copy instead of the region

Now Option Drag the region down to the blank track. Option dragging will allow a copy of the original track to be placed in the track.

Option Drag to Drag a Copy instead of the region

Strip Silence setup

Let’s pull up the strip silence feature of Pro Tools. You can do this by pressing Command-U. Go ahead and set the threshold at 0db, and everything else to the far left. I wish there was a way to make strip silence default to this setting, but as of now, I haven’t found a way.

Strip Silenc setup

Setting your threshold

Now, select the top track and slowly move the strip threshold to the left until all of your rimshots have a gray line through them as you see in the image below.

Setting your threshold in Strip Silenc

Setting Clip Start and End Padding

It’s usually best in this step to “blow up” the wave form and make it bigger so we can make better desicions here. You can do this by pressing option-command-] or option-command-[.

Now what we want to do is set the clip start pad to 17msec. This is the lowest that it wil allow but usually works perfectly for this. The reason we want to set the pad to 17 msec is that we don’t want to cut off any transients.

Also, we need to set the clip End Pad so that the hi hat will not be stripped.

Setting Clip Start and End Pad with Strip Silenc

Extract then Strip

Now press Extract on the Stip silence menu and the rimshot disappears. Don’t worry, we are going to do the exact opposite in the next step.

Now Highlight the Rim track. Instead of pressing Extract, press strip. The settings are the same so, you should have a perfectly cut rimshot track now.

Extract then Strip silenc

Stripping Success!

This is a picture of a successfully separated rim or sidestick track with my settings.

Stripping a track with strip silenc in Pro Tools

Now you’re done!

As you can see, Using the Strip Silence Feature in Pro Tools is pretty straighforward. It can be intimidating if you don’t know just how to use it though. I use this all of the time when I’m mixing drums with sidestick or rim. Hope you have found this useful.

To your mixing….

Have YOU used strip silence to clean up your Snare and Sidestick?

2 Comments

  • Dan Mikesell

    Reply Reply January 1, 2014

    I love this! A fantastic tip. This is really going to come in handy with my mixes. Might also be useful for extracting certain snare hits for triggering things like tambourine samples.

    Thanks Kevin!

    • Kevin Ward

      Reply Reply January 9, 2014

      That would be a great use for it Daniel.

      kevin

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