Using Samples With Groove Agent SE
Besides being a useful drum machine with a ton of presets, Groove Agent SE can manipulate full drum loops in some interesting ways
Load an instance of Groove Agent SE. By default it opens with an empty Beat Agent kit in place. The Create Slices function from before created an Audio Part containing a bunch of neatly sliced drum hits. Drag this to one of the GA SE pads (I recommend the bottom left pad mapped to note C1), and you have each of the slices assigned to a different pad (key).
Import a drum loop. If it’s not at the project tempo, use one of the élastique algorithms to stretch it. The élastique Pro Tape algorithm has the least audible artifacts, and is closest to sampling off vinyl. If the tempo is stored with the file, it will stretch automatically. Otherwise, enter the correct tempo in Pool window or use the Sizing Applies Time Stretch pointer.
Double-click the audio to enter the Sample Editor. Head to the Hitpoints tab and use the Threshold slider to adjust which beats are detected. Sometimes dropping the Threshold drastically but increasing the Minimum Length (between samples) delivers best results. Problem areas can be adjusted manually by engaging Edit Hitpoints. Once you’re happy press Create Slices.
In the Pattern Pads, when importing the drum loop slices GA SE also created a pad dedicated to playing back the full groove. It is a MIDI file that triggers the other individual pad slices. You can tweak here via the Performance parameters, but you can delve deeper by editing the pattern as a Cubase MIDI track. Drag the pad containing the pattern to the Project window.
Once the pattern is back in Cubase, notes can be rearranged, quantised and deleted. In GA SE, explore the Main tab in Edit. Switch Playback Quality to Turntable for a more lo-fi sound. This can be emphasised by using the Bit Red option under Filter Type and increasing the Distortion parameter while lowering cutoff. Also explore altering pitch and adding a fade-out.
Pressing a pad (or with GA SE in MIDI Follow mode if using an external MIDI controller) updates the parameter values in real time. By default you can adjust parameters on a per pad basis. If you’re feeling ambitious, you can configure editing to work at the sample level, with up to eight samples per pad (best when employing layering to create your own sounds).