Looking for a new sample editing tool

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d.healey
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Looking for a new sample editing tool

Postby d.healey » Sat Mar 23, 2019 7:21 pm

I'm looking for a free software tool for editing samples. So far I haven't found one that meets a few basic requirements for editing large batches of samples.

It must be multi-track
Must be able to import multiple audio files to a single track.
Must be possible to link/group items across tracks - vital for multi-mic editing
Must have an auto split at silence tool
A tool to distribute selected items (and others in the group) along the time-line at a specified interval, i.e 1 second apart - this isn't a vital feature but hugely desirable
Some kind of in item pitch shifting, preferably rate based.
Must have batch renaming for audio items either within a project or at export
Batch normalization to a specified dB
Must be able to import loop points from a wav file and export them when rendering
It should support VST or LV2 plugins
Spectral display as well as a traditional waveform and spectral editing would be good but not vital.

If anyone knows of such a piece of free software please tell. Or if someone is handy with audio programming maybe we can arrange a collaboration and create a dedicated sample editor.

rhydermike
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Re: Looking for a new sample editing tool

Postby rhydermike » Sun Mar 24, 2019 6:05 am

Have you eliminated Audacity from your search, as it's the usual open source go to for that type of thing?
https://www.audacityteam.org/

If that doesn't do the trick, Ardour might do the trick, but that's a full DAW and more complicated package to learn the ins and outs of. That said, it has a proper mixer and definately has support for groups.
https://ardour.org/

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d.healey
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Re: Looking for a new sample editing tool

Postby d.healey » Sun Mar 24, 2019 10:15 am

rhydermike wrote:Have you eliminated Audacity from your search, as it's the usual open source go to for that type of thing?
https://www.audacityteam.org/

If that doesn't do the trick, Ardour might do the trick, but that's a full DAW and more complicated package to learn the ins and outs of. That said, it has a proper mixer and definately has support for groups.
https://ardour.org/


Thanks I use both programs already for different things but neither meet my needs for sample editing.

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Michael Willis
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Re: Looking for a new sample editing tool

Postby Michael Willis » Sun Mar 24, 2019 3:11 pm

I'm not aware of anything that meets your requirements. I may be willing to work on such a project, but I would need to better understand what it is you want. A lot of your bullet points seem like a multi-channel sound file slicer-dicer with some similarity to Audacity or Ardour, but then you have other bullet points that seem more like HISE.

When you say that you need it to support LV2 and VST, do you mean that you want to be able to use plugins to process the samples, or that you want to be able to export your sampled virtual instrument as a plugin itself?

I haven't really done much in the way of sample editing, so it would help me better understand if you were to write a narrative of what start-to-finish steps you want to be able to take in a sample editing session.

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Re: Looking for a new sample editing tool

Postby rghvdberg » Sun Mar 24, 2019 3:44 pm

if we're gonna make this, count me in
this would be an ultra cool thing to be a part of

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d.healey
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Re: Looking for a new sample editing tool

Postby d.healey » Sun Mar 24, 2019 6:40 pm

Thanks for the responses. Over the last couple of days I've tried every free audio editor available that I could find but none have been totally suitable.

Michael Willis wrote:I'm not aware of anything that meets your requirements. I may be willing to work on such a project, but I would need to better understand what it is you want.


rghvdberg wrote:if we're gonna make this, count me in
this would be an ultra cool thing to be a part of


That's great. I don't think there has ever been a free tool dedicated to sample editing so creating one would be fantastic.

A lot of your bullet points seem like a multi-channel sound file slicer-dicer with some similarity to Audacity or Ardour, but then you have other bullet points that seem more like HISE.


The tool I need is for editing the samples before they go into something like HISE.

When you say that you need it to support LV2 and VST, do you mean that you want to be able to use plugins to process the samples, or that you want to be able to export your sampled virtual instrument as a plugin itself?

I need to be able to use plugins within the editor for processing the samples. These are things like auto-tuning, noise removal, and EQ.

I haven't really done much in the way of sample editing, so it would help me better understand if you were to write a narrative of what start-to-finish steps you want to be able to take in a sample editing session.

I'd probably be able to demonstrate it more clearly in a video, but I'll give a quick step by step of my process here.

  • Recording session where we record a real instrument.
  • Bring the audio files from the session into Reaper. This is usually 3 microphone positions. Close = 1 x mono, decca = 3 x mono, hall = 2 x mono (every developer has their own preference for mic configuration but this is what I'm mainly using at the moment).
  • Remove noise and export the individual channels in a more manageable configuration. I end up with 3 audio files - close = 1 x mono, decca = 1 x stereo, hall = 1 x stereo.
  • Bring these 3 files into a new Reaper session and use auto-split to split at each sample start.
  • Sort the samples - select the good takes and put the bad takes to one side
  • Trim the samples' start and end position - I do this in spectral view because it's much more accurate. I do it manually but I have short cut keys that make it quite fast (500 samples takes about 10 minutes).
  • Pitch shift the samples - I manually shift the pitch of each sample if needed samples using Reaper's rate based tuning. Rate based pitch shifting avoids creating phase/chorusing between the mic positions but it changes the whole sample so doesn't account for pitch drift through the length of the sample.
  • Additionally I use ReaTune when needed to take care of pitch shift through out a sample or I'll use per item pitch envelopes. Both these methods use proprietary Elastique library. Ideally a custom tool would have a rate based pitch envelope per item (something that isn't available in Reaper afaik).
  • Renaming the samples is next. Reaper has a batch rename tool and I can also skip select items to rename which is handy for dealing with round robin samples.
  • Normalization. I almost always normalize to 6dB.
  • I apply a tiny fade in and out to every sample to prevent unwanted clicks

There are a few things not included in that list such as looping, eq, cleaning up unwanted noises using the spectral edit tools, and volume envelopes. These are not the most crucial things at the moment and I can explain them in detail at a later time when needed.

This is the way I do things but I'm sure every sample library developer has a slightly different workflow so if we go ahead and build this tool we should discuss workflow with others to find out what will be most useful.
Last edited by d.healey on Sun Mar 24, 2019 10:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Michael Willis
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Re: Looking for a new sample editing tool

Postby Michael Willis » Sun Mar 24, 2019 10:03 pm

So Reaper does almost everything you want? It's not "free" by any meaning of the word, but it is cheap and there is a Linux native version. Building this kind of tool would be a project of enormous magnitude. If we really want a free software tool for sample editing, it might be best to contribute the needed features to Audacity or Ardour.

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d.healey
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Re: Looking for a new sample editing tool

Postby d.healey » Sun Mar 24, 2019 10:35 pm

Michael Willis wrote:So Reaper does almost everything you want? It's not "free" by any meaning of the word, but it is cheap and there is a Linux native version. Building this kind of tool would be a project of enormous magnitude. If we really want a free software tool for sample editing, it might be best to contribute the needed features to Audacity or Ardour.


Yep Reaper does everything I need and almost everything I want which is why everyone uses it for sample editing. I've been using the Native version since before it was official. But it's not wholly free (bits of it are), hence my post here :)

Audacity doesn't have a concept of media items so that's a no go. Ardour is the closest thing and I think some tasks might be possible via its built in scripting (I'll have to investigate) but other more fundamental features, like spectral view, will require work on the main program.

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d.healey
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Re: Looking for a new sample editing tool

Postby d.healey » Mon Mar 25, 2019 1:39 am

I've been reading the Ardour scripting guide and playing around with some of the other features in Ardour and if I can script a few things that I need then I think I may be able to work in Ardour. The only thing really lacking that I can see is spectral editing but I can use Audacity for that, I'll just have to change my workflow a bit.

I'll let you know how I get on with Ardour scripting.

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Re: Looking for a new sample editing tool

Postby rghvdberg » Mon Mar 25, 2019 6:36 am

I was just gonna comment about Ardour scripting :lol:

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d.healey
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Re: Looking for a new sample editing tool

Postby d.healey » Mon Mar 25, 2019 8:57 pm

I spent the day playing with Lua in Ardour. I've made a script that can reposition items along the timeline at a set interval. I use this feature all the time in Reaper so this is one step towards a new sampling set up :)

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d.healey
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Re: Looking for a new sample editing tool

Postby d.healey » Tue Mar 26, 2019 7:32 pm

Well I've hit a roadblock with Ardour. It doesn't have rate based pitch shifting, or any pitch shifting that I can access via scripting. It does have a pitch shifter but it's too cumbersome to use for editing thousands of samples.

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Michael Willis
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Re: Looking for a new sample editing tool

Postby Michael Willis » Wed Mar 27, 2019 1:45 am

d.healey wrote:Well I've hit a roadblock with Ardour. It doesn't have rate based pitch shifting, or any pitch shifting that I can access via scripting. It does have a pitch shifter but it's too cumbersome to use for editing thousands of samples.

Have you tried bringing this up on ardour's irc channel? Somebody there may have a suggestion for you. The only thing I can think of is maybe you can find a suitable plugin for rate based pitch shifting, or talk somebody into developing one.

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d.healey
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Re: Looking for a new sample editing tool

Postby d.healey » Wed Mar 27, 2019 2:28 am

Michael Willis wrote:
d.healey wrote:Well I've hit a roadblock with Ardour. It doesn't have rate based pitch shifting, or any pitch shifting that I can access via scripting. It does have a pitch shifter but it's too cumbersome to use for editing thousands of samples.

Have you tried bringing this up on ardour's irc channel? Somebody there may have a suggestion for you. The only thing I can think of is maybe you can find a suitable plugin for rate based pitch shifting, or talk somebody into developing one.

Yes I've been discussing the issue on IRC and getting help with some lua stuff there too. I have an auto-tune plugin that I can use for samples with pitch drift throughout their duration. But for most samples I need to manually shift the pitch of the whole sample up or down by a few cents and I don't see how this could be achieved with a plugin.

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Re: Looking for a new sample editing tool

Postby d.healey » Sat Mar 30, 2019 4:26 pm

Michael Willis wrote:The only thing I can think of is maybe you can find a suitable plugin for rate based pitch shifting, or talk somebody into developing one.

I've been thinking about this further and actually this might work. If the pitch shifter had an automation lane then I would be able to adjust the pitch up and down as needed to each region individually. I'll have to do some hunting and see if such a plugin exists.


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