Sometimes a track will sound great with a few exceptions, where the player hit a note a little too strongly. Here’s a good way I’ve found to make these spikes better without having to record again.
This is not a radical example here – the spike shown is probably mostly under control, but I’m using it just to demonstrate that sometimes your eyes are almost as good as your ears.
Here is a bass note recorded into Cakewalk by Bandlab. You can see a small spike near the beginning of the note, particularly on the bottom side..
Looking at the rest of my track, this only happens in a few instances. In order not to affect most of the track, I cut so that I am only processing this one note.
In Cakewalk, I really like the simplicity and the quality of their free Sonitus plugins. You can right click on the little cut track of the note and then insert an effect only on to this clip. I’m going to put the Sonitus compressor on it.
Here’s how the plugin looks. I’ve already set some of the parameters, which I will detail below. There’s a small square in the right hand top corner where you can get to the plugin you loaded on the clip.
I’m just trying to get rid of the spike above where my cursor is. I set the attack to zero because I want the compressor to act right away. I set the release to 1ms because I only want the compressor to work for a short period of time, so that the rest of the note is not affected.
I played the note to get an idea on how loud the input is.. You can see on the bars on the left what the level is. I slide the threshold control (on the colored volume bars) down just a little to -3.3. I set a pretty hard ratio of 5.0:1 with a hard knee. There is a limiter button also, which I usually keep on.
All of these values are trial and error. Once you get something that will work, you can apply it to the note segment (select the segment, right click and bounce to clip), and the waveform you see will change. I did this here, and this is what the wave segment now looks like.
You can see that the spike is somewhat reduced. If you find that things are flattened out to much, like in the image below, you can always edit->undo in Cakewalk and get back your original waveform.
It’s a little bit of trial and error, but at least you have a visual indication of what you are working with.
This can also be done for a whole track if you need to, but it is always a good idea to try to not affect anything other than what you need to fix.
Here’s a before and after side by side.