Method 1 - Play Better
You might think this is a joke, but the real answer to get great timing in Pro Tools is to play better in the first place. The 4 options below are simply fixes after the event and in some ways all of them will either change the timing and/or the feel of the original performance and you will lose something.
There is one thing better than all the technological fixes in Pro Tools and that’s a great musician really knocking a performance out of the park, choose this one every time.
Method 2 - Use Elastic Audio
On any audio track you can apply elastic audio, this then allows you to quantize, warp and move around in time the audio. It fatures several algortihms designed to match the audio content. It is well worth understanding how the audio is analyised otherwise you may get unsatisfactory results. Check our Pro Tools video tutorial here on Getting Elastic Audio In Pro Tools Without Artefacts.
Method 3 - Use Beat Detective
Perhaps one of the most used time correction tools on many of the top hits, Pro Tools Beat Detective is a powerful tool in the right hands. It allows the user to identify, fix, mend and even extract beat information from the audio. It works on both single and multiple tracks at the same time - essential for anyone wanting to fix audio without getting phase issues. We highly recommend the Groove 3 tutorials on this.
Method 4 - Chop The Audio And Move It
Some may think this a little old school, but this is still my sure fire way of getting drums in time. It takes a little work to understand but once grasped you can do it in around 3 moves.
Select the audio you want to get into time, if it’s a drum kit then make sure you work with it as a group.
Then go to the Edit Menu and select Separate Clip At Transients. This will have Pro Tools go through the audio and separate every clip on the transient.
Then select the grid and a grid value, try 16 first if it’s a regular beat.
Then hit the Command/Windows key and the ‘0’ key to move all the chopped up audio clips onto the beat.
Then select all the audio clips and open Beat Detective, and select Edit Smoothing, this will automatically add cross fades to every edit to fix any gaps created by the moving of the audio, make sure you have selected the correct time time signature and grid size. Then hit smooth.
Watch our Pro Tools video tutorial on doing this here.
Method 5 - In MIDI Use MIDI Real-Time Properties
If you work in MIDI then Real-Time Properties is a really fast way to check and fix the timing of a part, it works in Real time so it does not destroy the original performance if you want the option of returning to it a later date. You can however write the fix if you wish to keep it forever. You can watch our Pro Tools video tutorial on Mastering MIDI Quantize in Pro Tools here.
So there are 5 ways to get great timing in Pro Tools, which one is your particular favourite?