Stutter Edit is a MIDI-controlled plug-in that lets you instantly create “beat repeats” and other tempo-based effects. These types of effects can take hours to put together using automation, slicing and stacking. With Stutter Edit, you can produce them in real-time with the press of a key, making it a powerhouse plug-in for both live performance and the studio. In this article, I’ll show you how to make impressive Stutter Edit gestures in 10 minutes or less.
Stutter Edit only works on audio tracks, and you need MIDI to control it. Review DAW-specific instructions on getting up and running with Stutter Edit here. The process is generally broken down into two parts:
First, drag and drop Stutter Edit onto the audio track or master output you want to process. Second, create a MIDI track and choose a controller to trigger Stutter Edit. You can use any of the following options:
DAW piano roll
Hardware with MIDI capabilities
Each note you play on your MIDI device will trigger a different gesture—unique tempo-synced effects and rhythms that mangle your audio source.
Each gesture combines multiple effects that you can fine-tune to fit your style. They can be as simple or as complex as you want them to be. A single note can trigger a basic delay effect that repeats over your track. Or it can set off a sonic explosion of unpredictable filters, sweeps, and bit crushers.
There’s a lot going on with Stutter Edit. And the best way to understand it all is through experimentation. Choose a Bank preset, which maps gestures to MIDI notes, and start mashing some keys. Each preset is organized by themes like “Chips & Modems” or “Space and Delay” so you get an idea of what to expect.
The Stutter Matrix
The events set by the Stutter Matrix define the range of all timeline dots (the small dots that slide across the plug-in) and module controls in Stutter Edit. It’s the brain behind the machine. On the left hand side of the Matrix, punch in the mix of rhythmic values you want Stutter Edit to use when repeating audio. Choose from normal, dotted, and triplet bar divisions between 1/2 and 1/1024. Command-click to clear all values if you want to start over.
A single rhythmic value will repeat without any change:
If you choose multiple rhythmic values, and set the Stutter Length to “Full Range” (by right-clicking the Stutter module bar just below), you will both hear and see your processed audio sweep through the selection.
To the right, the Stutter Matrix has a keyboard that plays stutters at specific note values, between C2 and C6. The audio will sweep through the selected values, but this time produce a harmonic progression.
Keep these parameters in mind when creating gestures, which we will now explore in more depth.
Stutter Edit as a performance tool
Since each MIDI note triggers a different gesture, Stutter Edit has instrument-like playability. This makes it easy to incorporate it into live performances. Turn repetitive sections, buildups, and breakdowns into interactive experiences.
As your audio track plays, jam along with Stutter Edit to pick out a few complementary gestures. Record everything you play to MIDI clips in order to edit and move them around later on.
A quick succession of notes will cut and slice audio for a beat-juggling effect. In this example, Stutter Edit is on the master channel of my DAW session.
Filter and modulation-based presets are more expressive. They tend to stretch and twist audio in unexpected ways. Paired with some chord stabs, the live possibilities of the plug-in become clearer. Both the drums and chords are being processed by the same MIDI notes and gestures.
Go further down the FX rabbit hole with the Generator, which simultaneously adds noise, sweeps, and whooshes to Stutter gestures. Produce both gesture types together for tension between track sections and smoother transitions.
The Generator output can be fed back into Stutter gestures via it’s send controls for extra freaky sounds. Your audience will think you’re a total effects wizard even though you’re only pressing a few keys! Don’t worry, we won’t tell them your secret.
Stutter Edit for sound design and songwriting
If live performance isn’t your thing, Stutter Edit can still be used as a powerful sound design tool for production. The previous examples focused on short, fast-paced Gestures, but you can also use Stutter Edit to transform larger sections of audio by playing or drawing out sustained notes.
It’s an easy way to recycle old sounds to make them fresh again. I ran the same Dubstep drums used above through Stutter Edit for eight full bars, switching between seven different notes for variation.
This technique opens up creative options that weren’t there before. Whereas the previous examples were upbeat and summery, these new grungy drums call for moodier accompaniment.
You can really notice the musicality of Stutter Edit at work here. The glitches fit melodically with the synth drones, and the bitcrushing on the drums creates a rhythmic vocal-like pattern that captures the ear.
Use the Global Filter at the top right of the plug-in to add color and excitement to your sound. At its center position, it does not filter the signal. Moving it upward activates a high pass filter and moving it downward activates a low pass filter.
Stutter Edit: further learning
After spending some time with Stutter Edit, you’ll want to dive into the individual modules and tinker. Choose a preset and go through your controller key by key to see which effects are triggered and how they work together. You can toggle each module on and off with the yellow square in their top left corner.
Press and hold each key for an extended gesture and use your trackpad or mouse to adjust module parameters, starting with the Stutter Matrix. Listen to how your tinkering affects the Stutter Edit sound and use this information to build some next-level effects.
Find more information on each Stutter Edit module here.