Steinberg Cubase 5: Get your loops to play nice together—or at least play at the same tempo

OBJECTIVE: Import loop files that are faster or slower than the project tempo, and time-stretch/compress them to match the tempo.BACKGROUND: Cubase 5 offers several ways to stretch tempo, including DSP, recognizing files stretched according to Sony’s “Acidization” process, creating “hitpoints” in percussive files (see the 06/06 Power App Alley), and being able to import REX files. This method uses Cubase’s “Musical Mode” option.
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OBJECTIVE: Import loop files that are faster or slower than the project tempo, and time-stretch/compress them to match the tempo.
BACKGROUND: Cubase 5 offers several ways to stretch tempo, including DSP, recognizing files stretched according to Sony’s “Acidization” process, creating “hitpoints” in percussive files (see the 06/06 Power App Alley), and being able to import REX files. This method uses Cubase’s “Musical Mode” option.

STEPS

1. In the Transport section, set the desired project tempo.


2. Bring the audio file you want to use as a loop into a track (e.g., via drag-and-drop). Note that because this one-measure file’s tempo is slower than the project tempo, it lasts longer than one measure.

0.0001_ProjectTempo.jpg


3. Double-click on the file’s waveform to open the Sample Editor, click on the AudioWarp tab to reveal its parameters, then click on the Musical Mode (note symbol) button to conform the loop’s tempo to that of the project.

0.0002_ImportFile.jpg


4. Choose a rhythmic value from the Quantize drop-down menu that matches the loop’s rhythm (e.g., 1/16 if the loop has a 1/16th-note high-hat pattern).

0.0003_MusicalMode.jpg


5. While still in the Sample Editor, audition different stretching algorithms and choose the one that sounds best.

0.0004_Quantize.jpg


6. If you need to add orange transient markers at unmarked transients to produce better stretching (e.g., a 32nd note in an otherwise 16th-note pattern), click on Free Warp. The cursor changes to a clock with two sideways arrows (magnified for clarity in the screen shot); click on the waveform wherever you want a transient marker. Close the Sample Editor, and you’re done.

0.0005_StretchAlgorithm.jpg
0.0006_TransientMarker.jpg

TIPS

-In Step 6, you can also move a marker by grabbing its triangular handle and dragging it left or right. Zooming way in can simplify placing the marker exactly on a transient, which typically gives the best stretching results.
-Cubase 5 stretches files in Sony’s Acidized format and Propellerheads’ REX format, as instructed by the metadata embedded in those file formats.