Dissatisfied with drum sounds in general

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Post by Amos » Sat Mar 29, 2008 5:12 pm

There's nothing like playing with a real drummer.
However I personally can't stand the sound of an acoustic kit in my music.
I am so happy that I finally found a live drummer to work with,
who plays an electronic kit.

We take the audio from his Roland drum brain, and run it into the dBlue Glitch VST plugin live... SIIIIICK!!! Insane IDM breaks for days, controlled by a live drummer. Plus I can map any samples I want to his kit.
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Post by cornutt » Sat Mar 29, 2008 9:41 pm

kuroichi wrote:how complex are you thinking though, and using what kind of sounds analog or digital, or both?
Initially, it'll be digital. I don't yet have the analog bits that I need for good drum sounds -- everything that I've tried so far has come out sounding like a circa-1980 home organ rhythm box. But that's another problem.

I'm actually starting to think that I am going to have to write some software to do what I want. That still leaves the controller, though. I'm wondering about the possibility of something like a Monome with velocity on each button. Map each row or column to a set of sounds from a particular drum, with further modification based on velocity and other controllers.

And an edit: I've looked at the Zendrum before. It's a bit pricey. But I'm still considering it.

I'm okay at at tapping out things on pads. (I use the DR-202 as a sound source; I don't use its sequencer.) I've never learned to acutually play with sticks. Now, besides the expense of buying a kit, I'm kind of afraid to because I'm not getting any younger, I use computers all day at work, and I don't want to get tendonitis.
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Post by wiss » Sat Mar 29, 2008 10:10 pm

I was unhappy with drum sounds for years....

then I bought an mpc 60, and I was happy..I love that sequencer
Last edited by wiss on Sat Mar 29, 2008 10:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by Joey » Sat Mar 29, 2008 10:10 pm

As a drummer myself, I can say there is a certain roboticized sound on drum machines that I enjoy. The super quantized drum sound is sometimes really good. Obviously for your sort of thing AG, you don't have much use for them, but for what you are doing, you are basically turning your sampler into a drum machine. That is if I'm reading correctly, sampling live performances and then sequencing them, most drum machines do this with individual hits, but an MPC can do the same thing.

With that said, live drums and quantized drums are two different sounds with two different applications.

If I'm using live drum sounds, I much prefer them to be played live, I prefer drum machines that sound like drum machines, i.e. x0x, the roland CR series, etc...
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Post by aredj » Sat Mar 29, 2008 10:42 pm

What about the multisampled drum software packages... what was it? ezdrummer?

Havent the abletons just added this to their suite? Session drums... Have a look there...


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Post by i_watch_stars » Sun Mar 30, 2008 2:19 am

All of the sudden this is an drum machine vs anti-drum machine thread, lol.

To the original poster, yes, it is hard to pull off. Especially when the drums are the centerpeice of the track, or they are alone, etc. I can come pretty close with my XV-5080 with the SRV Drum board in, plus random quantize, plus modulating just about all velocities, but obviously it still isn't right on.

However, to all those nay-sayers, I would say that some sample sets and modern ROMplers come pretty damn close to real drums assuming you have some very good programming skills. If you go to eastwest, and browse some of their samples, you might be surprised at the realism you can achieve.
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Post by Shleed » Sun Mar 30, 2008 2:34 am

I used to hate the sound of drums in my music, until I learned how to program my own drum sounds with synths and programs like uTonic. Quite flexible and adds originality.

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Post by Tyler2000 » Sun Mar 30, 2008 7:55 pm

have you considered this one?

so what do I put down here now?

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Post by killedaway » Sun Mar 30, 2008 8:19 pm

i haven't used a standalone ROMpler drum machine in a while, but i always felt the DR660 was very effective at sounding "real". i don't remember how all of the hits were, but hitting the cymbals at different velocities yielded separate samples, from the center of the cymbal out to the edge. it was pretty cool. the sequencer was a snap, too.

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Post by Sir Ruff » Mon Mar 31, 2008 6:16 pm

killedaway wrote:i haven't used a standalone ROMpler drum machine in a while, but i always felt the DR660 was very effective at sounding "real". i don't remember how all of the hits were, but hitting the cymbals at different velocities yielded separate samples, from the center of the cymbal out to the edge. it was pretty cool. the sequencer was a snap, too.
yes, I was about to say that the Dr. 770 does the same thing (and prolly has more samples, better quality, etc)...

I was always impressed at some of the patterns I made that definitely sounded "real" (me also be a "real" drummer occassionally)... the pads aren't great, but they definitely offer enough velocity variability to give a more natural feel when tapping in the pattern real-time.

Actually, a dr. 770 and a MPD-16 (that MPC standalone pad unit) might be the ideal setup... Or get a good set of drum triggers, a trigger>midi converter, to play it in "live".
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Post by juantwothree » Tue Apr 01, 2008 5:19 am

BFD is about as close as any software or hardware has come to sounding like a real drummer. Most hardware drum machines don't have the multisamples to get the dynamics of real drums. Use it w/ the free SSL talkback plug and get *that* sound.
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Post by MitchK1989 » Tue Apr 01, 2008 11:32 am

juantwothree wrote:BFD is about as close as any software or hardware has come to sounding like a real drummer. Most hardware drum machines don't have the multisamples to get the dynamics of real drums. Use it w/ the free SSL talkback plug and get *that* sound.

I have heard some amazing stuff out of BFD. Fxpansion really seems to know what's up percussion wise... I definitely like GURU... It's like a software MPC... And I will definitely be grabbing BFD2 at some point for more "real" drums.

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Post by gmeredith » Tue Apr 01, 2008 11:53 pm

You'll probably have to go down the same path that I did. I use a sampler (in my case, my ancient Casio FZ-1) and do velocity layer switching. Most newer samplers can do this, but for example, I go over to my friend's house and sample his real drum kit. The FZ-1 can do 64 velocity layers - so I sample each drum and cymbal many times, at various velocities and places on the drums/cymbals.

I then assemble the samples across the keyboard with each different drum/cymbal on its own key, but with each velocity variation of the same drum/cymbal on the same key, and switching to a different variation at a different velocity level between 0-127.

I also can have the sample variations cross over in velocity a certain amount, so each variation transitions to the next. So I might have a hi-hat with 10 different velocity and position samples on the same key. maybe 10 for the snare, 5 for the crash cymbals, 3 for the kick etc. It depends on what I value the variation in the most.

I then use my Roland PM16 drum pad brain to play the samples off drum pads, and play the sounds live into my sequencer as an electronic drum kit. The PM16 can do sample velocity cross-fade of 2 different samples per pad - so I could even have another set of samples on the FZ-1 on another key - such as a different snare sound - and cross velocity layer it with the snare sound on the normal snare key on the FZ, each key with its own multi layered samples, to get even more expression.

If you want to go down this path, but don't want to go to the trouble of doing your own drum sampling off a real kit, you could get a sampler that does velocity layers and get some good multi-samples of drums from here - the Natural Drum Kit (NDK):


Have a listen to their demos on the RHS of the page - they're pretty astounding!

They used to offer the N7Free kit for free, which was an enormous 200MB download of wav files of samples of 1 drum kit, multisampled many times per drum/cymbal, but it doesn't seem to be available any more (glad I downloaded it!).

You then load them up in your sampler as I've described. It also came as a sound font for computer soft samplers already layered and set up.

So if you do go down this path, all you need is a sampler that can do multisamples. I don't know about other samplers other than my FZ-1, but i'm sure you can do the same sort of thing with maybe an EMU ESI series sampler - they go for cheap, probably about the same price as a drum machine, or some of the mid-era Akai's.

I know the Roland Fantom XR rack rompler can load multi velocity samples in this manner - I was thinking of getting one as a replacement for my FZ-1. It's not a sampler as such, but you can load your own wav files and set them up as I've described, so it's as good as a sampler for the purpose you want.

Other than that, you could go software and computer. I use the Kotkas Paax VST Sampler software, it's cheap ($45) and does many multi-layers per key. You can have a drum kit with hundreds of samples. It also has a free version:


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Post by mavertron » Wed Apr 02, 2008 12:56 am

pricklyrobot wrote:I think trying to convincingly emulate the dynamics of a real human drummer to the degree of realism that you seem to want is ultimately going to be an exercise in futility.

Kind of like trying to get a synth to convincingly sound like a guitar, you might be able to get close with a whole shitload of effort but in the time you take you probably could've learned to play guitar or found a guitarist with whom to collaborate.

I think part of using drum machines involves appreciating what they do well (i.e. sounding like drum machines) and finding a way to make that part of your sound. Otherwise, you're probably better off spending your time and energy tracking down a real drummer.
bingo - this is it in a nutshell - drum machine = good at being a machine,
rubbish at being a human.
and it works the other way too - in my experience drummers make rubbish machines -

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