The key to a great-sounding mix is rooted in the tonal balance of the drums. Yet, as mixers, we don’t always get hit with drums that are perfectly tuned or recorded. Drums can be a tricky part to blend into the mix. Because of that, there are many effects and sound processors available in order to manipulate them. Equalizers, compressors, modulation effects, you name it. Tuning the drums according to the root key of the track showed great benefits, so there are more and more processors available for this task.
Torque by Waves Audio
In my opinion, one of the best sounding tone shifting plugins is without any doubt the recently released Torque by Waves. This plugin is made especially for shifting the tonality of acoustic and electronic drum sounds. Torque is a precision drum tone shifter that will help you salvage mistuned drums, pitch them to a specific key and enhance their tone – without retriggering or replacing, without the artefacts introduced by traditional pitch shifters, and without losing the body, timbre, resonance or attack.
Driven by Waves’ Organic ReSynthesis® technology, Torque detects and analyzes the drums’ formant, amplitude and carrier information, reassembles it, and allows you to manipulate the tonal and pitch characteristics, all while preserving the natural attack, resonance and duration of the original sound. So without further delay let us dive into it!
Tightening the Drums
Firstly, here we have a drum loop created in SoundBridge that sounds pretty tight already. Besides that, I have made a short bassline sequence, so let’s hear how it sounds.
~Drum loop – Unprocessed
Bassline – Unprocessed
Nevertheless, the sub-frequency of the kick drum incorporated in this drum loop is not quite tuned with the bass line sequence. To fix this I will drop Torque on drum loop MIDI channel created in Soundbridge.
As you can see from the picture above, Torque has a rather simple interface. However, the plugin itself is by no means a simple one. The main parameters for controlling are the “Focus“ slider in the upper part of the interface and the “Torque“ knob in the centre. Consequently, the Focus Display is a formant analyzer that displays the formant energy of the input signal across the frequency spectrum. You can use it to locate the Focus frequency, which is the frequency around which tone shifting will occur.
The Torque Knob controls the amount of formant shift. This action mostly affects the frequencies around the Focus setting. So, if Torque is not correcting tone as expected, re-adjust the Focus setting. Cents on the knob display the amount of offset.
Torque Speed affects the time-constant qualities of the Torque process. Longer Speed settings often yield smoother attacks and releases, while shorter settings usually result in a quicker formant shift.
The Torque Trim sets the level of the shifted process (i.e., the processed section of the signal only) with respect to the unprocessed signal.
Hear the difference!
After I have explained the main parameters of this useful plugin, let us hear how it affected the drum loop from the beginning. In order to hear the difference better, we will first hear it solo and then together with the bassline.
~Drum loop – Processed
~Drum loop – Processed + Bassline
Feel free to download the project here.