How to Edit Drums like a Professional


Perfect timing, perfect tempo and impossibly tight rhythmic playing are pretty much a standard of modernized music. A tight drum sound is expected now as a mix engineer. Even your most inexperienced drummer expects to sound like their heroes, and to be honest, they should. They’re paying you money after all right.


From understanding tempo and time signatures, to knowing when to make precision cuts in a drum track’s wave form, you can take any drum track given to you and time correct it to 100% precision, ensuring every hit is on time and with the groove. It will take a lot of time and patience, but professional editing is one of the most rewarding aspects of the mix process, if done correctly.


There is no deceiving the eyes and ears of an experienced recording engineer. Sure, programs can get the job done faster, in terms of editing drums, but there will always be mistakes and errors that the program missed. That is why editing drums should always be done manually for a level of accuracy that is unmatched by any program.


Professional drum editing is done manually because of the precision it offers and the 100% accuracy rate you will receive in return. Many times, it will take more than one sitting to complete drum editing, but it will certainly pay off when you begin to mix your song afterwards and hear it take on a professional sound. Let’s get started below.




Begin by grouping all your drum tracks together. Editing drums that are not grouped will cause timing and phasing problems that will lead to horrible sounding drum recordings.


Grid Matching:


Next make sure your DAW is set to grid. This is integral in achieving perfectly timed drum hits.


The BPM, beats per minute, and time signatures should had been set up prior to even recording any instrument


Slicing at the correct spot:


Search for the transient hit in the waveform of the part of the drumkit you want to time correct and slice the audio at that spot. By raising your waveform display, you will be able to more accurately see where the transient begins, leading to better cuts.


Moving to the grid:


Move the wave form to the corresponding grid location in your DAW. Be sure to notice if the transient was early or late.


Time Stretch:


If the transient was early, you may have to time stretch the waveform to keep all audio in sync and in phase.


Placing a crossfade:


Always place a crossfade a little behind the grid line to allow a smooth and accurate playback. Placing the crossfade right on the grid line will not allow the transient to heard clearly and placing it too far from the grid line will lead to a repeat of sound information that will sound like a glitch.


Consolidating your cuts:


Once you have made all your slices, moved all your transients the grid, time stretched and crossfaded it is time to consolidate all your edits into one sound clip. This will not only take a huge strain of processing power off of the computer, it will create a better looking, easier to organize, session in your DAW. Remember, the fewer waveforms you need to work with the better.


Final product:


Is editing drums like a professional a long a tedious process? Yes. Will your eyes being to hurt after staring at the screen for hours? Yes. Will your hand being to strain from clicking the mouse so many times? Yes. Having professional sounding recordings takes time and hard work but that is the difference you must strive for in order to become a well-respected recording engineer. Don’t be lazy and do it right the first time!