MIDI Quantization Explained – Audio Mentor

What is quantization? You can find the quantizing option in most DAWs like Ableton Live, Cubase, Logic X, etc.

Imagine you record a MIDI drum pattern into your DAW. Because we’re humans, you’ll probably have some timing mistakes while hammering down on your MIDI controller. This is where quantization comes to save your recording. With a few mouse clicks, you can ‘snap’ the MIDI notes into the respective beats and achieve a 100% on-time snappy recording.

The problem is hard quantization will take away the ‘humanization’ or ‘musicality’ of your recording. Your recording will sound very unnatural and robotic.

In this post I like to show you how to quantize your MIDI recordings and yet achieve a natural and good sounding recording which is in time.

Before we fix your timing issues in your MIDI recording, I’d like you to understand how to use quantization.

Basic Quantization & Understanding Time Values

It’s important to take the initiative to learn time values in music theory before attempting to use quantization.

First of all, you have to understand music time values. Quantizing is basically a function used to correct the timing of the MIDI notes in which you use time values as its settings.

Watch the video below. It’s an old video but if you’re new to MIDI composing and looking to learn quantization, you’ll be able to pick up a few golden nuggets from the video below.

Time & Quantization Values

Depending on where you studied music, people might tell you different things. For instance, studying music under the British method, I grew up learning a Semibreve has 4 counts. It was later in my production years when I learn that a semibreve is also called a whole note in American music study.

The same goes for music structure, where a ‘bar’ is called a ‘measure in American music study. Since most music softwares are made with American music terms in mind, you’ll find quantization values measured in American names.

Advanced Quantization – Swing, Triplets & More

Now that you got basic quantization under your belt, it’s time for me to introduce to you some other interesting quantization techniques. In this video below, I’ll explain quantizing swing rhythms, triplets and creating a quantize groove.

Note: Not all DAWs have the groove quantize feature although most DAWs come with the quantization feature. Here is a list of DAWs that I know has groove quantize.

1. Steinberg Cubase – I’m using Cubase & loving it’s stability.
2. Logic X – The most complete DAW ever.
3. Pro Tools – The industry standard, however a little not so user friendly for me.
4. Ableton Live – The electronic music nerd head’s choice.
5. Sonar Producer – I didn’t like Sonar at all but I still see many people using it.

 Power Tip: You can always steal grooves from commercial loops and music you like and then apply it on your own tracks.

Quantizing & Humanizing Tips

Here are some additional tips I wrote in hopes that they’ll help you create better music when using quantization.

Quantization & Humanizing Tips


I hope this short video post have helped you understand quantization better and my hopes are you use them in your MIDI compositions! My explanation on quantizing are carried in Cubase, but the techniques to quantize will be the same across different DAWs.

Let me know if you need any help on quantization on your different music softwares like Ableton Live, Logic X and more. I’ll be happy to create new videos on how to quantize on those music softwares.

Happy quantizing!

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