Digital Drumkits vs Analog Synth Drums

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Digital Drumkits vs Analog Synth Drums

Post by varun213 » Tue Jan 05, 2016 2:00 am

Hi guys,

i'm really stuck on deciding if I should go with High quality digital drumkits available online or just get a drum synth and make my own Drum sounds. My thing is I want drums that can give me that extra warmth and beef that I hear analog drums offer that Digital drums cannot.

Whats your guys take on that? Is it worth it using Something like the vermona drum synth vs digital drum samples available online? Will the average person be able to tell the difference?

I think digital drum samples sound really good nowadays. I know actual synthesizers do make a tonal difference but with short hits and quick attack time based sounds like drums/percussion would it give an obvious tonal difference?

Theres so many different opinions out there I dont know which one is accurate.

I would really appreciate all the info given about this issue.

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Re: Digital Drumkits vs Analog Synth Drums

Post by Walter Ego » Tue Jan 05, 2016 4:27 am

One issue you face with sample based percussion is that it's more difficult (though not at all impossible) to manipulate the sounds over time. With an analog drum machine, prime examples being Roland TR-808 and TR-909, you have the ability to really play it as an instrument. You can make small or large parameter changes in realtime and shape your sounds. I haven't used a Vermona machine, but I understand them to be powerful and flexible--but remember the DRM does not have a sequencer. You have to trigger it with something. Even the diminutive Korg Volca Beats is very fun to perform with, and packs a surprisingly big punch with the kicks and toms. It's much harder to perform with a static sample in software.

808 samples (kicks and snares) or percussion hits that sound like them are ubiquitous in pop music. Whether they are made from the real thing is somewhat immaterial. They're being abused and played to death.

Anyway, one problem you run into with sampled sounds is that you are stuck with the source sample. You can't really do all that much to change it. If the sample has a long decay, you can shorten it. But you can't add a longer decay if your source sample doesn't contain it. That's why if you really want to sculpt and shape your percussion sounds, even in subtle ways, you probably want an actual sound generating engine (i.e. an analog drum machine). Now, if you have a *real* sampler, there are many things you can do to the sound (chop it, modulate it, pitch it up or down, etc), but you can't actually put in what isn't there.

Remember, though, that analog is not magic. I like my Boss DR-110, and I like rhythm boxes from the 70's, which are *analog* but don't really have any sound shaping capabilities. I also really like my Korg ER-1 (mk II) drum synth/sequencer. It's not analog, but it has an analog interface and analog-emulating sound engine. It does many of the things analog drum machines do, but includes a great deal of flexibility in its four separate synth parts, which are really basic synthesizers in their own right. It's often a go-to piece of gear because of its intuitive sequencer and flexible engine.

Again, it really depends on what you want to do with your percussion sounds. Since "beef" and "warmth" are highly subjective qualities, it's hard to know exactly what you're after. I have some very beefy sample-based drum machines. Many people would call the LinnDrum beefy, and I would describe other sample based machines of the early 80's as warm, such as the SCI DrumTraks. It's a subjective call. The TR-909 is an analog beastie, but I don't know too many people who would call it "warm".

As started to point out above, you should also consider your interface. What's your end goal? To have fun? To perform live? To just lay down a track that you can play at a party or a club? The more locked up in the computer you are, the harder it will be to perform without something like Ableton and a performance interface with loads of knobs and buttons.

Just some things to think about. Personally, I have tried whatever came along my path. I like hardware. It's fun and immediate. There's digital hardware I like and analog hardware I like. I also have a sampler that I can sample unique percussion hits into, which is also a lot of fun. Buy something used. If you don't like it, pass it on to someone else, and keep experimenting. At the same time, I started out using FruityLoops about 15 years ago (now FL Studio) because that's all I could afford, and I had fun with that also.

Volca Beats is not a bad place to start. Beefy kicks and fun performance features. And CHEAP.
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Re: Digital Drumkits vs Analog Synth Drums

Post by recordbot » Tue Jan 05, 2016 4:36 am

some friends of mine have been making 909-808 based music for decades, they're telling me to sell those drum boxes and just use samples with maschine and that they'll never do drums the 808/909 way ever again

take that for what it's worth

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Re: Digital Drumkits vs Analog Synth Drums

Post by Walter Ego » Tue Jan 05, 2016 4:51 am

recordbot wrote:some friends of mine have been making 909-808 based music for decades, they're telling me to sell those drum boxes and just use samples with maschine and that they'll never do drums the 808/909 way ever again

take that for what it's worth
I guess it depends on what kind of music you want to make. I could easily see making music with Maschine quite effectively. I think it just depends what the end goal is.
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Re: Digital Drumkits vs Analog Synth Drums

Post by Zamise » Tue Jan 05, 2016 6:26 am

Get something with a lot of drumkits and hopefully a decent engine for manipulating them, and don't bore me with the same sounding drums in every song. Yes, the average listener isn't going to notice if you are using a sample based kit or the real deal. You can have attack looped samples and the delay or sustain portion of the envelope can be virtually endless, that is not hard to do but often not built in to a lot of canned drum kit sounds. I like to turn the decay up on my crashes and have them last a while so I know it can be done. Some machines/software, I think not many, even have the capability to modulate and automate loop points and other tricks to fade out drums and sounds more realistically, however I don't think that is all that necessary for drum kits and drum sounds. If you are just looking to impress some music buddies and you want movement in your drums, get something where you can assign a freerunning or not key on reset to the LFO and assign it to a little bit of pitch and filter. Plus you will likely be able to have some effects you can put on top of them that you likely won't have built in with what you seem to be associating with those other notorious Analog Synth Drum machines, at least not without spending more on an outboard effects processor. Just my two cents, get the one trick ponies after you've figured out their signature sounds and know you'll enjoy listening to them over and over and over again and maybe when you win the lottery or spend your life savings to help pay for all them. Instead you can get just one machine if you find the right one with all those kits already inside it, sampled, digital, VA, acoustic, or not or whatever. Not that my stuff is a great example, but I often like to mix kits too and do some layering of drums in my songs.
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Re: Digital Drumkits vs Analog Synth Drums

Post by varun213 » Tue Jan 05, 2016 10:08 am

Walter Ego wrote:One issue you face with sample based percussion is that it's more difficult (though not at all impossible) to manipulate the sounds over time. With an analog drum machine, prime examples being Roland TR-808 and TR-909, you have the ability to really play it as an instrument. You can make small or large parameter changes in realtime and shape your sounds. I haven't used a Vermona machine, but I understand them to be powerful and flexible--but remember the DRM does not have a sequencer. You have to trigger it with something. Even the diminutive Korg Volca Beats is very fun to perform with, and packs a surprisingly big punch with the kicks and toms. It's much harder to perform with a static sample in software.

808 samples (kicks and snares) or percussion hits that sound like them are ubiquitous in pop music. Whether they are made from the real thing is somewhat immaterial. They're being abused and played to death.

Anyway, one problem you run into with sampled sounds is that you are stuck with the source sample. You can't really do all that much to change it. If the sample has a long decay, you can shorten it. But you can't add a longer decay if your source sample doesn't contain it. That's why if you really want to sculpt and shape your percussion sounds, even in subtle ways, you probably want an actual sound generating engine (i.e. an analog drum machine). Now, if you have a *real* sampler, there are many things you can do to the sound (chop it, modulate it, pitch it up or down, etc), but you can't actually put in what isn't there.

Remember, though, that analog is not magic. I like my Boss DR-110, and I like rhythm boxes from the 70's, which are *analog* but don't really have any sound shaping capabilities. I also really like my Korg ER-1 (mk II) drum synth/sequencer. It's not analog, but it has an analog interface and analog-emulating sound engine. It does many of the things analog drum machines do, but includes a great deal of flexibility in its four separate synth parts, which are really basic synthesizers in their own right. It's often a go-to piece of gear because of its intuitive sequencer and flexible engine.

Again, it really depends on what you want to do with your percussion sounds. Since "beef" and "warmth" are highly subjective qualities, it's hard to know exactly what you're after. I have some very beefy sample-based drum machines. Many people would call the LinnDrum beefy, and I would describe other sample based machines of the early 80's as warm, such as the SCI DrumTraks. It's a subjective call. The TR-909 is an analog beastie, but I don't know too many people who would call it "warm".

As started to point out above, you should also consider your interface. What's your end goal? To have fun? To perform live? To just lay down a track that you can play at a party or a club? The more locked up in the computer you are, the harder it will be to perform without something like Ableton and a performance interface with loads of knobs and buttons.

Just some things to think about. Personally, I have tried whatever came along my path. I like hardware. It's fun and immediate. There's digital hardware I like and analog hardware I like. I also have a sampler that I can sample unique percussion hits into, which is also a lot of fun. Buy something used. If you don't like it, pass it on to someone else, and keep experimenting. At the same time, I started out using FruityLoops about 15 years ago (now FL Studio) because that's all I could afford, and I had fun with that also.

Volca Beats is not a bad place to start. Beefy kicks and fun performance features. And CHEAP.
You made some really great points. Time stretching is a problem i run into alot while working with digital samples. I really like the vermona DRM1 and love the idea it can be triggered via midi since I do all my sequencing in the box (fruity loops 12.2) .. I just got my first hardware synth the DSI Prophet '08 and it immediately sounded amazing and that was just me messing around with the frequency knob of a saw tooth. I see a steep learning curve coming for me since ive never used hardware synths before, ill manage to get through it somehow.

To give you a better perspective, I've been a fully in the box music producer. What I want to do falls under the umbrella of a Music producer honestly but only studio work for various hip hop albums/mixtapes etc...No goals or desires to play live or anything like that.

I just like to craft music around vocalists. My goals are to just get some analog synths/drums/Moog style bass etc.. all incorporated into my music. I think it will really help my sound and thats the idea honestly. Too many people in the hip hop genre use the same sampled drum kits its crazy. I know you can get great results digitally, but the sampled synth basses dont sound as attractive to me as a synth bass directly from a Moog voyager for example. IMO

Would that help my sound overall and work up the ladder to a higher level in music production working with more expensive clients? Maybe not, and I hear of many "in the box" based music producers that are established with alot of expensive clients and do a great job, but for me I like the analog route but limited to how I use it with FL studio since that is my main DAW. I do all sequencing inside the box.

It just bothers me that since so many people use digital drum samples is that the future like the other poster said in this thread? It seems as though they can sound just as good besides the time stretching benefit you would get.

I dont know of any other modern analog drum synths out there under the 1k range besides the Roland TR8 and the Vermona.

im open to any suggestions you may have. I hope that makes it a bit more clear

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Re: Digital Drumkits vs Analog Synth Drums

Post by varun213 » Tue Jan 05, 2016 10:14 am

recordbot wrote:some friends of mine have been making 909-808 based music for decades, they're telling me to sell those drum boxes and just use samples with maschine and that they'll never do drums the 808/909 way ever again

take that for what it's worth
man thats wild I really have to ask since I'm having trouble making this 900$ investment for a Drum synth lol...

is it because of the efficiency and how the tonal differences are very similar with today's technology?

Would you know of any websites that sell super high quality digital drum samples? ive been checking some out and they sound pretty good nowadays but at the same time I dont have access to a Drum synth to directly compare.

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Re: Digital Drumkits vs Analog Synth Drums

Post by varun213 » Tue Jan 05, 2016 10:20 am

Zamise wrote:Get something with a lot of drumkits and hopefully a decent engine for manipulating them, and don't bore me with the same sounding drums in every song. Yes, the average listener isn't going to notice if you are using a sample based kit or the real deal. You can have attack looped samples and the delay or sustain portion of the envelope can be virtually endless, that is not hard to do but often not built in to a lot of canned drum kit sounds. I like to turn the decay up on my crashes and have them last a while so I know it can be done. Some machines/software, I think not many, even have the capability to modulate and automate loop points and other tricks to fade out drums and sounds more realistically, however I don't think that is all that necessary for drum kits and drum sounds. If you are just looking to impress some music buddies and you want movement in your drums, get something where you can assign a freerunning or not key on reset to the LFO and assign it to a little bit of pitch and filter. Plus you will likely be able to have some effects you can put on top of them that you likely won't have built in with what you seem to be associating with those other notorious Analog Synth Drum machines, at least not without spending more on an outboard effects processor. Just my two cents, get the one trick ponies after you've figured out their signature sounds and know you'll enjoy listening to them over and over and over again and maybe when you win the lottery or spend your life savings to help pay for all them. Instead you can get just one machine if you find the right one with all those kits already inside it, sampled, digital, VA, acoustic, or not or whatever. Not that my stuff is a great example, but I often like to mix kits too and do some layering of drums in my songs.
I'm trying to get my music to the next level where I can possibly work with people who are very talented and in order for that I would need to have a great sound. I know many producers are amazing with digital music only especially in hip hop, I believe using hardware synths can maybe influence a more unique sound to the beats/instrumentals I am already making. Especially in a genre where most sound the same because the same drum kits are used like crazy.

What would you say?

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Re: Digital Drumkits vs Analog Synth Drums

Post by meatballfulton » Tue Jan 05, 2016 1:31 pm

Oddly enough I have read numerous articles by "experts" in the UK musik comix about how to create slammin' dance tracks and they extol the idea of creating drum and bass sounds using synthesis and then sampling those sounds so that every time the sound plays it is identical for maximum impact.

I have nothing else to add because I have never been interested in drum synthesis ;)
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Re: Digital Drumkits vs Analog Synth Drums

Post by recordbot » Tue Jan 05, 2016 3:21 pm

varun213 wrote:I'm having trouble making this 900$ investment for a Drum synth lol...
the exact details of why I cannot say but my man from Detroit came to my studio and told me that the collector items need to go, everything without a specific purpose had to go, and that I had way too much stuff I didn't need, basically get 1 thing for poly, 1 thing for mono, he said the drum boxes were collector items that had to go and that he had way more interesting stuff cutting up drum loops in Maschine and then running them out and back in again through various processors to get what he wanted


interesting enough he told me some of the deepest techno tracks I love with really big sounding drums weren't even 808/909 they were made with a R8 that was sampled resampled processed and recorded,

this guy told me the key to my studio was my console and my preamps that I should just run everything through that and then run it through again. To be honest he's making money with this and touring all the time, he's been inside every studio in Detroit so I have to take what he says with some amount of serious, someone else mentioned you need those 808/909 boxes for certain music and while yes that is true to some degree it's not like you can't make that music without those boxes either,

it's not the hardware that creates the music, your mind does, so pass on the expensive drum box and think about everything else a producer needs to consider in his chain between idea and finished product, don't sleep on console, convertors, EQ, compression, preamps, you can probably produce a lot more with a revox tape deck and everything you already have than just buying another piece.

so if you're hot to spend money and you don't have a preamp go find yourself a preamp like warm audio tonebeast, ampex 601, or anything like that and use that, it's less than your drum synth budget and will teach you more about producing, if you can hold out save your money and go buy a manley varimu, or go grab a 1176 clone and run things through that, whats your console and eq situation looking like? what are your convertors looking like? anything weak in that chain is going to determine where your final product sits so you could have every drum box and synth on the hot list and have it sound terrible because you have no console, no tape, no high quality conversion

which sample library to use?

you have a record collection right?

I'm sure there are drums on those records, if not go buy the best of little feat and start there. I'm sure between a little feat CD, preamp and tape deck you can hit a tone nobody else has yet with samples everyone has heard a million times, and anyone else reading this could do the same if any of us could get out of the gas zone.



the guys in Chicago tell me that tone control on the 909 belongs all the way up and it should stay there, so if you're doing that kind of music why have the box if that setting will just always sit in 1 place

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Re: Digital Drumkits vs Analog Synth Drums

Post by meatballfulton » Tue Jan 05, 2016 4:45 pm

Your original post and your last one read like two different people wrote them.

I like what your "man from Detroit" told you about getting rid of a lot of stuff :mrgreen:
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Re: Digital Drumkits vs Analog Synth Drums

Post by Walter Ego » Tue Jan 05, 2016 5:43 pm

recordbot wrote:the exact details of why I cannot say but my man from Detroit came to my studio and told me that the collector items need to go, everything without a specific purpose had to go, and that I had way too much stuff I didn't need, basically get 1 thing for poly, 1 thing for mono, he said the drum boxes were collector items that had to go and that he had way more interesting stuff cutting up drum loops in Maschine and then running them out and back in again through various processors to get what he wanted
It's hard to argue with success, for sure. But there are plenty of artists who have a variety of attitudes toward their gear. I recently read a Gary Numan interview in which he says he has little sentimental attachments to the gear that helped his success. But I also watched an hour or so video interview with Chromeo on their gear, and though they run everything into an MPC 5000 eventually, they have plenty of gear; some used often, some not so often. I also read the recent SOS cover interview with CHVRCHES and they have some very nice vintage gear that they love using along with the modern stuff. It's hard to argue with their success.

At the end of the day, it seems to come down to finding a working method that works for you. One of my heroes has a setup where his master clock is an MC-202, followed by dual MSQ-700's, syncing up an entire studio of drum boxes, synths, sequencers, and modular gear. And he actually manages to make melodic music.

If the slimmed down streamline approach works better for a certain genre, that may be. The most I know about hip hop (at least, the 80s style) is that the MPC is important, as well as an SP-1200. Seems to me like the OP might want something to give samples that "stardust" magic of the SP-1200. But it depends on if you're looking for clean or dirty.
recordbot wrote: interesting enough he told me some of the deepest techno tracks I love with really big sounding drums weren't even 808/909 they were made with a R8 that was sampled resampled processed and recorded,
Many people sing the praises of round robin-ed samples through the R8. I imagine MC Hammer used an R8 on Too Legit, but that's pure speculation.

To the OP, if you want that current long decay 808 kick sound, get a few samples and play with them, or think about a TR-8. If you want that magical old-record feel, get something that can chop up samples and add in digital artifacts.

I've been sampling a lot of percussion patches created on my Juno 60 into my humble Korg ES-1 with results I really like. It sounds fairly unique but not strange. Now...to get my hands on an MS-20...
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Re: Digital Drumkits vs Analog Synth Drums

Post by Jabberwalky » Tue Jan 05, 2016 6:23 pm

Get an ER1 and an ES1 and just make stuff. I personally just use a drum rack in Ableton.

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Re: Digital Drumkits vs Analog Synth Drums

Post by recordbot » Wed Jan 06, 2016 3:07 am

Walter Ego wrote:I recently read a Gary Numan interview in which he says he has little sentimental attachments to the gear that helped his success.
well that makes sense, you ever tried to have a polymoog repaired?

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Re: Digital Drumkits vs Analog Synth Drums

Post by Stab Frenzy » Wed Jan 06, 2016 3:25 am

Walter Ego wrote:I recently read a Gary Numan interview in which he says he has little sentimental attachments to the gear that helped his success.
Yeah that may be so, but these days he's performing out the front of a terrible nu-metal band and making money by doing ads for car batteries. ;)

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