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Steinberg Wavelab: Tweak the levels of sounds inside a drum track or loop

June 1, 2009
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OBJECTIVE: Change the mix of an already-mixed drum part by emphasizing or de-emphasizing particular drum hits.

BACKGROUND: Think you can’t do much to change the mix of an existing track or loop? Think again—especially if you have Steinberg Wavelab. Its Spectrum Editor mode allows zeroing in on a particular range of frequencies with surgical precision, allowing you to do tricks like lower or raise a kick drum’s level, emphasize only a drum’s transient, accent the snare backbeat, and in some cases, remove a sound entirely from the part.

 STEPS

1. Click on the downward arrow toward the waveform window’s lower right, and select “Spectrum.”

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2. Choose “Surgical processing (offline).”

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3. Select “Damp” to change gain.
4. Select “Pass-band filter” to alter all frequencies in the area you’re about to select.
5. Study the waveform while playing it to correlate sound to shapes and colors. For example, with Wavelab, red is the loudest level, then it goes through the spectrum (orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet) to softer levels, with dark violet being the softest. So in this example, a yellow blob at a low frequency (toward the bottom of a window) shows a kick drum. Here kicks are outlined in red, and snares in white.

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6. Draw a marquee around the area you want to change (e.g., a kick).

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7. Set positive gain to make the sound louder, and negative gain to make it softer. In this instance, the kick is going to be made +3dB louder (click on the up/down arrows to increment/decrement respectively).

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8. Click on “Process.” Done! Note how the kick with the marquee is now more orange than yellow, indicating that it’s louder; also, more of the selected area in general is yellow.

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TIPS

- You can be selective with what you edit; for example, you could select only the transient, and raise or lower only the transient and nothing else.
- In Step 3, you also have options like fade in or out, fade in then out or out then in, blur peaks, and disperse sound.
- In Step 4, there are options for low-pass filter and high-pass filter as well as pass-band filter. You can set filter steepness (dB/octave) in the lower midright area of the Spectrum Editor dialog box.

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