Sound Design Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for sound engineers, producers, editors, and enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Quantizing MIDI is a piece of cake and every program/DAW that supports MIDI does it. But say I'm working with raw audio instead, say maybe a guitar line I just recorded, and the performer's timing is a bit off and doesn't match the click as well as it should. If I want to line it up with the tools I have now, I open up the guitar audio and click track in Audacity and manually delete or copy the waveform so it lines up. There has to be a better way.

So what tools could I use to "quantize" recorded audio? (I use Cubase SX 5, but I'm open to trying other tools if needed.)

(Note that I'm not asking whether or not I should do this instead of re-recording or anything else; I just want to know if it is possible and how I could do it.)

share|improve this question

migrated from Feb 21 '14 at 11:07

This question came from our site for engineers, producers, editors, and enthusiasts spanning the fields of video, and media creation.

What version of Cubase? – Ian C. Jan 27 '11 at 22:41
@Ian C. - SX 5. Updated the question. – Andrew Arnold Jan 27 '11 at 22:43
Tim - please migrate to Sound – Rory Alsop Feb 15 '14 at 9:01
up vote 7 down vote accepted

I use Ableton Live's warping feature for this. Instead of cutting or copying parts parts of the audio waveform (like you're describing in Audacity) it attempts to stretch the recordings to the locations you specify.

I've never seen a timestretching algorithm that didn't color the sound at least a little bit (which makes sense, really) but I've had pretty good luck with it for small, quantization-level modifications.

share|improve this answer
Pro Tools has a similar feature called Elastic Audio. – BenV Jan 27 '11 at 18:24
cubase also has a similar feature. Remember seeing it in Cubase 3 or 4. when you press enter that screen pops up with the waveform/region exploded and there was a tool there to do it. – jlebre Jan 27 '11 at 19:07
Cubase lets you do the same with hitpoint detection and audiowarp. The idea is to detect the beats and then warp the audio to quantize the beats. See for example… and pick the Audiowarp Hitpoints topic in the list to the left. This article is also a good introduction: – Kim Burgaard Jan 29 '11 at 0:10
I knew some of the major DAWs had functionality like this but I only knew the specifics of the one I had worked with. Thanks for the extra info. – Warrior Bob Jan 29 '11 at 7:16
+1 for Live. The newish version 8 has a pretty good engine for this kind of thing and expensive CPU modes that sound better. – d-_-b Jan 30 '11 at 2:43

I've been pretty successful by doing hard core edits. Using power based instead of gain based crossfades help masking out phase/colouring issues.

I could probably get away with some bass notes, or even guitar. Staccato, or heavy legato notes are usually easier. Protools make this a breeze with dual timeline feature (transport, edit timeline) and the ability to snap anything, at any point to your cursor.

Elastic audio has @BenV suggested is a pretty good thing to look at.

Any kind of warping will depend on the algorithm you are using though. If you do go for something like that try them out. Won't say one is better than the other but may be more suitable than the previous one. For instance, try editing guitars with Polyphonic but then try other presets or even offline processing (xform). Protools will also allow you to use other codecs (with special conditions).

share|improve this answer

If it's staccato enough to be automatically split, then Propellerhead ReCycle might help. It splits samples into parts, and let you rearrange them and indeed play them from a sequencer, so that you can quantize them like that. Could be worth a try.

share|improve this answer

In Reaper, you first tell it to split a clip in each transient; then you can move the splits to their right places, or change the fades between them, in group or individually; or you issue a second command to have the DAW align the splits to the project grid, still retaining individual control. Not a tool -- it's done directly in the arrangement.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.