Hands-On Review:Digidesign's Sound Replacer Audio Suite Plug-In


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Sound Replacer: Audio Suite Plug-In

 

Part 1: Drum Triggering / First Impressions

Digidesign's Sound Replacer Audio Suite Plug-In (Mac/PC)

 

Doctor Digital's Diagnosis:
Sound Replacer is a useful tool for triggering new drum samples from drums that have already been recorded. Mixing engineers and remixers will appreciate this plug-in when it comes to replacing drums elements recorded onto separate tracks and embellishing drum loops with better drum sounds. But it's not always easy to replace individual hits within mixed drum loops. Also, there are certain limitations because Sound Replacer is an Audio Suite plug-in, though Digidesign has included some clever ways around them.

 

RATINGS(1-5)
Ease of Use: 3
Value: 3 (MSRP $395.00)
Look: 3
Functionality: 2

 

At one point or another, anyone who records or mixes live drums or uses drum loops in their music will wish that the individual sounds were better; that the snare had a bit more "crack" or maybe that the kick would have a little more punch. Sure, one can do a lot with EQ and compression, but there are times when it comes down to needing a completely different sound.

 

Back in the day, mixing engineers would use elaborate tricks to trigger new drum sounds from existing recorded drum performances. Usually, this required some sort of sampler with trigger inputs, yet there were many problems with this system, such as mis-triggered samples or "flamming" with the original drum tracks. Of course, there was also the chance of losing the feel and dynamics of the original drum performance by using triggered samples.

 

As an engineer, I have had to do a lot of drum replacing, particularly in drum loops, and I usually use an involved process of chopping up the original loop (using Steinberg's Recycle) and then re-triggering the individual drum hits using MIDI. It takes a long time and doesn't always work as well as it should.

 

Digidesign has come up with a clever way of solving these problems with an innovative plug-in for Pro Tools, designed to trigger drum samples and replace sound effects. Sound Replacer takes an existing track and, using a series of threshold levels, sets which sounds will be replaced with new audio files.

 

First Impressions
The interface is fairly straightforward though it does require a bit of experimenting to get the best results.

First, choose the file or region that contains the sound or sounds that need replacing. Pressing the Update button draws the waveform in the main display. Three colored sliders to the left of the display are used to set the thresholds for each of three triggered samples. Just below each threshold fader is a disk icon that is used to select the sample or audio file to be triggered. As each threshold slider is adjusted, a similarly colored vertical line appears in the display to show which drumbeat will be replaced with which audio file. Below the display is a conventional zoom tool for magnifying a section of a region although Sound Replacer needs to analyze and redraw the waveform every time this is pressed).

 

File-Based Plug-In
Audio-Suite plug-ins were designed as a way to save DSP power by creating a new processed audio file from a selected piece of audio. As with other Audio Suite plug-ins, users can preview results of Sound Replacer by pressing the Preview button on the lower left corner. When the desired results are attained, new files can be created by pressing the Process button. Unlike most other Audio Suite plug-ins, though, Sound Replacer also offers a convenient setting to determine where the resulting file will be placed. The Destination Track parameter provides a pull-down menu with a list of all existing tracks so that the end result of the processing can be placed wherever desired. While Sound Replacer will work with all versions of the Pro Tools software (LE or TDM), it will not work with other software that can use Audio Suite plug-ins such as Emagic's Logic.