1000 Samples in One Day

A while ago, I had what I first saw as a real problem. I had to get a whole bunch of samples from a drum sample CD, and use these in Reason. These samples were spread out on at least 50 tracks of that CD and I estimated that there would be about 500 samples in total. I really didn't feel like spending time manually cutting up audio files, but after a late afternoon caffeine overdose, I figured out how to achieve this using my dear friend ReCycle 2.1 and almost nothing else.

Ripping

First of all, we need to rip the audio tracks from the sample CD to your hard drive. That is a piece of cake, provided that you have an appropriate application for this job (here's where the almost nothing else I just mentioned is needed).

Mac OSX users can rip files with iTunes:

  • Launch iTunes
  • Insert the sample CD
  • Choose Add Track to Library
  • Navigate to the CD and select the actual tracks on the CD that you'd like to rip
  • Make sure that the resulting file is in the AIFF or WAV format (you set this in the iTunes preference menu)

Windows XP users can e.g. use the FreeRIP application, a freeware available at the MG Shareware website.

  • Launch FreeRIP
  • Insert the CD
  • Hit the refresh CD button
  • Select the audio files in the list that appears
  • Use the Rip to Wav command

About the only thing to remember when you are ripping is to make sure that the resulting file is in the aiff or .wav format and not in any compressed format like AAC or .mp3.

Please note that an entire audio CD will occupy up to 650 Mbytes on your hard drive and that the resulting ReCycled audio files will also occupy a few Mbytes so check that you have all this space available or rip and edit a few files at a time.

After you have ripped the audio files, locate them on your hard drive. At this stage it is a very good idea to spend some time to name the files properly. The ripping process will probably name these a generic Track-01, Track-02 etc, which makes it a pain to remember what's what. If e.g. a particular audio track on the CD is full of bass drums, name the audio file so that the name reflects the actual content. This will save you a lot of time and confusion later on in the process.

Slicing

Launch ReCycle and open up one of the audio files. First of all, make sure that the L-locator is right at the beginning of the first sound. If not, move it there in order to discard any unwanted silence that might appear at the beginning of the audio file. You do not have to worry about the R-locator though, any empty space after the last audio section will be taken care of automatically.

Set the Stretch function in ReCycle to 0. We do not want ReCycle to add anything at the end of the audio files when we use it to create samples like this:

Sensgatesens

Note: By design ReCycle will add a small portion of "stretched" audio at the very end of the audio file even though the stretch value is set to 0. Check on a few audio files if this will present a problem to you, in general I do not have a problem with this.

Move the Sens-slider to a point where most, if not all, of the future samples gets one slice a piece. Check the slices by clicking on them one by one in order to make certain that every slice plays only one sound. In the example above, the Sens-slider set to 15.

Lockedslice2

If there are sounds in the audio file that are very quiet, it may be impossible to set the Sens-value to slice these sounds, without also getting more than one slice for the louder sounds. You can fix this by increasing the Sens value until those low level sounds get their slices as they should, lock those slices with the Lock tool in ReCycle and then back off a bit on the Sens value until the rest of the audio files have their own slices. To the right, you see a snare roll where I locked the slice on the very first beat and then backed off on the Sens-slider.

More often than not, there will be vast areas of silence in between the various sounds in the audio file. You do not want to include this in the resulting samples, this will only use up your precious RAM. Hold down the Shift-key and turn the Gate Sensitivity setting to its lowest value (0.1) and ReCycle will automatically remove those silent areas from the resulting audio files when we export them. You might want to make sure that the gate doesn't get rid of audio material that you'd like to keep by listening carefully to a slice and toggling the gate on and off. Adjust the Gate Sens value to a setting that is appropriate for the files that you want to create. As you can see, the Gate Sens is set to its lowest possible value, 0.5:

Sensgatesens 1

If there are slices in the audio file that you don't want at all, select the slices for these sounds (using the shift-click method) and activate the Silence Selected function. Any slices that are muted in this way will not be included in the exporting process. Here's another snare roll with one locked slice (the first one) and thre muted slices (the following three).

Lockedandmuted2

Saving

Now is the time to save all those slices as individual audio files, but this is not done by using the Save command in ReCycle. You should instead choose Export Sound and select the file type that you want to use - either AIFF or WAV.

Exportdropdwn

Look at the name that ReCycle suggests. That will be the first part of the name of the resulting slices - if there are 12 slices and ReCycle suggests the name snares.aif, ReCycle will create 12 files on your hard drive, named snares 001. aif, snares 002. aif etc. Save yourself some time by getting the first part of the name right at this stage, to avoid having to rename dozens of files later on.

Saveas

When you are happy with the name, select a folder (or why not create a new one in order to keep things neat and organized) and hit Save. ReCycle will now save those slices for you, as individual audio files. These files may then be imported as samples in the NN19 or NNXT in Reason - or any other sampler. You may of course rename the audio files afterwards, if you change your mind about the ReCycle-generated numerical names.

I have often used this method with drums, but you could use ReCycle in this fashion with pretty much any kind of material. Now, the only thing you'll have to figure out is what to do with all the spare time you suddenly have on your hands.