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