Negative delay & groove templates

I’m trying to figure out which DAW combo to use since I am picky with how I record vocals - probably gonna end up with SO, Reaper, or Live as my vocal recorder while I make beats in Renoise. Going through all my DAWs made me think a lot more about grooves, and the groove mixer/pool functions in Reason, ACID, and Live.

Really made me realize how pointless it is to try to get a really grooving beat going in most non-Renoise DAWs. Swing isn’t good enough and piano rolls/groove templates are so imprecise. But Renoise is great, you just have to tweak the values in the delay column in a predictable (i.e. rhythmic) way to create a unique groove that’s actually a groove and not just a swing knob affecting certain notes.

The only things I see Renoise as lacking in the groove department are two things - first the ability to set a negative number in the delay column. You see this kind of feature in Reason’s ReGroove mixer, with it’s “slide” knob that lets you inch a groove just before the beat.

I’d love to see an ability to use negative numbers in the delay column to make lines trigger early. If we could do this, it would be easy as pie to get the second thing, some sort of groove mixer function, going. You’d just need to be able to save the whole delay column in a given pattern and then be able to apply it to another pattern or project. Wouldn’t necessarily work without it, because if you for example make a groove where every beat hits early, with the current setup as I understand it, you’d have to know in advance to type it on the line before and delay it to hit very late. This would be hard to save and share with someone or apply to a pattern after the fact unless you knew and planned ahead and intentionally put your kicks on the wrong line to delay them.

Basically my feature request is four-fold:

  1. Some way to reverse delay lines so they trigger early
  2. Some way to save, recall, and share entire delay columns’ data from phrases or patterns and apply them to other phrases or patterns, like Ableton’s “Groove Pool” but better because it’s Renoise.
  3. A way to make these delay-based “Grooves” scalable to LPB. So for example if I make a groove template in 4 LPB where every line has some delay effect on it, if I recall and apply this groove in a 16 LPB track it would automatically space the delays out so they line up with the same beats.
  4. Possibly some way to scale from 0-100 the “amount” of groove applied. What I imagine this meaning in practical terms is 100% exactly copying the original groove’s scaled delay values and something like 10% just moving the relevant delay lines 10% closer to the value in the groove relative to the originally typed delay, so the grooves don’t have to strictly overwrite any delays that might already be in a pattern.

Since it’s just playing with the delay column I don’t imagine this being too crazy to implement, but it would be a big deal to get a real groove function that deals with real grooves rather than just swing/shuffle because the tracker interface blows piano roll DAWs out of the water in the groove department.

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Negative delay would be very useful indeed, I found the workaround of placing the note with a long delay the line above to be less elegant than would be ideal.

Yeah, that’s all we can do now far as I know. Hope it’s doable, I get the sense Renoise doesn’t like to modify tracker functionality too much (whereas you see some trackers like radium that are so open minded they’ve become a mess). I understand the commitment to principle but it would be useful and wouldn’t compromise the tracker focus.

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One technique that I rarely see mentioned is using the delay columns in the mixer view for this sort of thing. It can be very useful for lining up percussion transients and getting tracks to groove nicely.


However, the way it is implemented is a bit annoying. If you set one track to -100ms, all the other tracks will effectively have a 100ms delay, as expected, but live midi recorded will also be delayed 100ms, for everything, which feels terrible. It would be really nice if there was some sort of delay compensation for jamming/recording that could ignore plugin and track delay, just for the one track that you’re playing on.

Currently, I just avoid setting negative delays, and instead I set most of my percussion and bass to be delayed around 15-30ms, do all my recording on 0ms of delay, and then make further adjustments as necessary to line up rhythms and transients.

Obviously you won’t get your more advanced groove features with this, but negative delay is “sort of” possible.


I’d never heard of this. Good to know! This will help with sliding drums around