Tips for using Beat Detective
■ Beat Detective works best with rhythmic tracks such as drums, bass, and guitars—so don’t expect great results with more ambient material such as strings, vocals, or synthesizer pads. And if you have a rhythm track that is too complex or too far out of time, you may not get such good results either.
■ Where Beat Detective works well is when analyzing short sections of audio— especially when you want to detect the beats and sub-beats within a bar.
■ It is often best to split longer clips into shorter eight-bar or four-bar sections (or less) to make these easier to work with.
■ It is crucially important to define selections accurately, zooming the display to sample level and editing at zero waveform crossings whenever possible.
■ It is also crucially important to make sure that you have set the correct time signature.
■ Be aware that beat triggers can often be placed wrongly or inaccurately during the analysis process, so you may need to move these, delete any that are not needed, and insert any that are missing.
■ Be aware that Beat Detective is not perfect! You should check visually and aurally when you have created the Bar|Beat markers to make sure these are accurately placed and move them manually if they are not.
■ Remember that it can be quicker to use the ‘Identify Beat’ command to build tempo maps, especially if you find that Beat Detective is not successfully placing beat triggers after analyzing a selection. If you are creating a tempo map, you should be using sample-based audio tracks so that the audio clips stay fixed while the bars and beats change in relation to the audio when you generate Bar|Beat markers.
■ After analyzing one clip, if you want to analyze subsequent clips, make sure that you capture or define each new section accurately in the Beat Detective window and that you click the Analyze button again for each new clip that you work with. Otherwise the beat triggers that you see may be based on a previous analysis.
■ Try using the different Analysis modes—enhanced, low, or high—if you are not getting sensible results. These different modes use slightly different algorithms to analyze the audio material that may be more appropriate for the audio you are working with.
■ If you are creating a groove template, make sure that there are no Bar|Beat markers within your selection.
■ It is often a good idea to get the average tempo of your selection set as accurately as possible—either by using Identify Beat or by generating a Bar|Beat marker using Beat Detective for your whole selection by pressing Generate as soon as you have set the selection parameters correctly. Then when you subsequently analyze the selection to produce bar and beat triggers, you will immediately see if these are located in the correct positions—and Beat Detective will find it easier to place them in the correct positions.
■ Make sure that you fully understand how Beat Detective works with multiple tracks—and how to use Collection mode. If you do need to work with multiple tracks, it may be easier to work with them individually—or using Collection mode.
Beat Detective can produce excellent results, saving you a lot of time when you are editing audio clips. However, to get the best out of using this, you must always make sure that you have set the time signature correctly, that you have made your clip selections accurately, and that you have entered the correct number of bars and beats when defining your clip selection.
I have found that I get much more accurate results more quickly if I make sure that the session tempo is as close as possible to the actual tempo of the audio before I try to do anything ambitious with Beat Detective. This way, it is easy to see if the beat triggers are being produced in sensible locations. You can do this by trial and error—guessing the tempo and trying this to see if your guess is correct—or by using the ‘Identify Beat’ command.
Also, if Beat Detective puts any Bar|Beat markers in the wrong places when you generate these, you can manually move them to the correct positions by dragging the markers along the timeline. So it is always a good idea to play through your selection when you think you have all these markers in the right places, with the display zoomed so that you can see how accurately they are actually positioned, and move them as necessary. You can even use the ‘Identify Beat’ command for this purpose. So don’t feel that you can only use Beat Detective—you can use a combination of methods to achieve the end result.
Ultimately, if you practice using Beat Detective on a range of different material, you will get used to using it and find the ways that work best for you. Good luck!
Excerpt from In the Box Music Production: Advanced Tools and Techniques for Pro Toolsby Mike Collins © 2014 Taylor & Francis Group. All Rights Reserved.
About the Author
Mike Collins is a studio musician, recording engineer, and producer with more than thirty years’ experience making records. He has many credits on UK chart singles and albums, for radio and TV broadcasts, advertising jingles, and movie scores. Mike has regularly reviewed music and audio software and hardware and written about a variety of audio and music production topics, with more than 2500 articles and reviews published in Future Music, Macworld, MacUser, Personal Computer World, Sound On Sound, AudioMedia, Studio Sound, Electronic Musician, EQ, MIX, Pro Sound News Europe, and others.