Un-mixing software is kind of a big deal. Programs that break down mixed audio files into their component parts represented a holy grail of pro audio achievement for many years, and now thanks to the sophistication of artificially intelligent machine-learning algorithms, they are starting to come online.
Accusonus has a patented, A.I.-assisted audio analysis engine that enables its Drumatom2 software to remove microphone bleed from drum recordings. A similar technology powers Regroover Pro 1.7 to split fully mixed drum loops and other audio files into 4 to 6 separate tracks based on similar sonic and rhythmic characteristics. However, unlike other software, the appeal doesn’t end with track separation. Regroover’s creative and powerful playback, remixing, and exporting options make an instrument in its own right.
Regroover Pro’s audio analysis can do wonders in isolating a particular sound, such as a kick drum or snare from a full drum loop. However, don’t expect perfect track separation from just any fully mixed WAV or AIFF just yet. This technology has come a long way, and it will only get better, but Regroover Pro 1.7 works best with drum loops whose sounds are distinct in both character and rhythm.
In fact, with certain loops you’ll get near-perfect separation of kick, snare, hi-hat and percussion parts. With full music beds or multitrack mixes without drums, the results vary. Either way, you can almost always uncover some interesting sound design opportunities, and Regroover includes some clever ways to massage better results out of the initial analysis.
FIXING THE UN-MIXING
Once you drag a WAV or AIFF (30 seconds or shorter) into Regroover, it analyzes the audio and churns out four separate tracks, called Layers, into the plug-in’s timeline. Each Layer has a DAW-style track header with gain, panning, Stereo Enhancer (mid/side control), solo and mute buttons. Regroover analyzes your loop’s tempo and automatically syncs it to the tempo of your DAW’s session. You can adjust your audio’s BPM if the analysis was wrong, as well as switch off host syncing if you desire.
Once you’ve soloed through the Layers, if you’d like to experiment with different results, check out the Analysis section. It lets you bump up to five or six layers, and the Activity slider lets you adjust for slow-changing music or for busier clips. For every change, you hit Split to re-analyze the file.
Say you want to isolate a particular sound, but some elements of that sound are spread over more than one Layer. The eraser, or Annotation tool lets you highlight sections to be removed from one Layer and added to another (because the sum of all the Layers always adds up to the original audio). For example, if a kick drum is spread across multiple Layers, erase them from all but one layer, and then use the Lock button (which prevents a Layer from changing upon re-analysis) on all the other Layers except the one where you want the kick. When you click Split, all the kick elements should be combined to one Layer. That method worked quite well in my testing for drum sounds in the low-, mid-, and high-frequency range.
Four strategically chosen effects for each Layer also helped me to tease out only the sounds I wanted from the Layers. The gate, EQ, compressor, and saturator can all help you either to enhance and bring to the forefront the sounds you want or to dampen or eliminate those you don’t. The gate helped particularly on Layers with little noise artifacts between the main drum hits.
BANG ON THE PADS ALL DAY
Whether Regroover gives you great, fully usable Layers out of a particular audio file or not, it has a whole second facet that lets you wring every last drop of juice out of an un-mixed loop—the Expansion Kit. This 16-pad grid lets you highlight any portion of a Layer and then drag-and-drop it onto one of the pads for playback. It is a quick and effective way to pinpoint the best individual sounds from your un-mixed audio and stash them in an easily playable pad grid.
Regroover’s Editor view provides editing tools for the sounds on each pad: start and end points, reverse, gain, pan, Stereo Enhancer, mute, solo, an ADSR envelope shaper, and two effects—EQ and compressor (see Figure 1). You can also import any WAV or AIFF up to 30 seconds long onto one of the free pads.
With the MIDI-playable Expansion Kit, you could load a favorite drum loop into Regroover, pull all the best sounds from it onto pads, and supplement the kit with other samples within minutes. Or you could mute the kick drum, for example, from a loop and replace it with any kick from your collection.
You can play both the Expansion Pads and the six Layers with MIDI notes in three modes options—trigger, toggle, and hold. The Layers begin with MIDI note C3, and the pads begin at C4. Unfortunately, you cannot change the MIDI notes assigned to the layers and pads to better accommodate your own hardware preferences.
Triggering Regroover’s layers becomes even more fun when you mess around with each Layer’s left and right markers to set the start and end points for that Layer’s playback. You may want to focus on looping just the most interesting part of that Layer, or by making the repeating sections an odd number of steps on the grid, you can create loops with the multiple Layers that evolve over time. Each Layer’s playback region becomes a sample phrase, and once you start playing those phrases on a controller or feeding Regroover some programmed MIDI tracks from your DAW, you’ll be remixing your formerly static drum loop into a whole new rhythmic experience.
Regroover Pro supports 16 stereo DAW outputs, so you can route each Layer and/or each Pad to a separate audio track in your DAW for further mixing and processing. And to preserve all the work you’ve done isolating and editing sounds within Regroover, you can export the Layers, pad sounds, or the L/R marker selections as post-effects/post-fader audio files at the same sample rate as your DAW session. Export options include Layers as separate files, Layers as a mixed file, a pattern as determined by your L/R marker selections and the Clip Length, the L/R marker selections individually, or the pad sounds as separate files (see Figure 2).
You can also save all your work as a Regroover Project file, which will make it easier to reopen into a different DAW session, another host software, or to share it with a collaborator.
It’s already quite cool that, more often than not, Regroover Pro turns a fully mixed drum loop into multiple tracks of the loop’s component parts. Then on top of that, its fluid, on-the-fly remixing tools, editing tools, drum pad player, routing, and exporting options make a fun, fast, and flexible rhythm machine.
Remember that Regroover Pro lets you mine for snippets of gold within drum loops and other audio that was previously off limits. You won’t always strike it rich, but any producer whose work includes a lot sampling, remixing of stems, and drum pad performance should be better off with it than without it.
When it works to its fullest, you can unlock a single drum loop to be the basis for an entire song’s fresh and original rhythm tracks. This plug-in has the potential to rebirth a dusty old collection of drum loops into an endless trove of new beats.
Separates drum loops and audio files into component Layers. Tools for remixing Layers. Drag-and-drop sounds to drum pads. 16 stereo outputs. Strong export options.
Imported audio limited to 30". Can’t zoom in on Layer waveforms. Can’t change MIDI note assignments of Layers and Pads.