Drum machine that doesnt sound fake?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by frankencow150, Feb 18, 2002.

  1. frankencow150

    frankencow150 Guest

    Oct 17, 2001
    All the drum machines ive heard sound kinda fake,different from real drums.

    Are there any drum machines(not on the computer) that you can carry around,that have real drum sounds?Most of them just sound fake to me.
  2. Aaron


    Jun 2, 2001
    Bellingham, WA
    A real drummer.

    The truth is that all drum machines sound fake because everything is perfect and repeated. I haven't heard one that puts in fills now and then.
  3. Hategear

    Hategear Workin' hard at hardly workin'.

    Apr 6, 2001
    Appleton, Swissconsin
    Do yourself a favor, keep your machine!

  4. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    I have a Boss DR-770 that I like a lot - and it doesn't try to drink all my wine! :D
  5. frankencow150

    frankencow150 Guest

    Oct 17, 2001
    One problem about getting a real drummer,we cant find one!Our friend was gonna get a drumset but it turns out he probably isnt gonna get it.we dont know any drummers.
  6. I've played around with numerous drum machines over the years - most suck royally, and most have a signature sound (Roland TR, Yamaha DD series).

    There aren't too many good options, but a few are:

    LinnDrum LM2 - one of the first to use sampled sounds, sounds good but quite 80's. What does it sound like? Check out most of Prince, Thompson Twins...

    Roland R8 MkII - fantastic unit, great sounds and a "humaniser" that emulates drummer f***ups. Velocity-sensitive pads and expandable via drum cards.

    Akai MPC2000 - well, a sequencer/sampler unit, but load up the right drum sounds, and bob's yer uncle. You want one, I want one.

    A drum machine will never, ever sound like a real drummer. But you could take sampled drum loops (played by real drummers) and chop'n'change them on the computer, and use a phrase sampler to play them back live.

    Try and find a used R8 - they are a fantastic piece of kit, but are getting hard to find now. If you can afford it, an MPC2000 or MPC3000 will future-proof you and provide more toys! :D
  7. Hategear

    Hategear Workin' hard at hardly workin'.

    Apr 6, 2001
    Appleton, Swissconsin
    You mean it speeds up and slows down, adds fills at random points during the song, crashes on all the wrong beats, shows up late to practices, tries to steal both your girlfriend and your spotlight and whines all the time cuz you never do anything with his "songs?" People actually pay for that option? Hire my old drummer -- he does all that stuff for free!

  8. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Of course there are loads of (fairly expensive) drum machines with very good samples of real drums - you can even get chips with John Bonham's drum sounds!

    But the point is of course that drum machines are only as good as the person who programmes them - garbage in garbage out!

    So - great drum programmers get paid top dollar in studios. It is possible to inject human feel and groove into drum programmes - but it takes a lot of work and knowledge on the part of the programmer. My Roland Microcomposer has loads of "Groove Templates" which can introduce subtle variations. I can also go through every beat in my pattern and shift notes about as I want - but I don't because :

    - I'm not a good programmer
    - I don't know what makes a good drum part from the "inside"
    - I'm not a drummer
    - It takes forever to do it!!

    So like if I spent about 3 solid weeks programming a drum part for one 3 minute song, I know I could get it to sound more "human" . But why bother when I can get to jam and play with a real drummer 3 or 4 times a week anyway?
  9. dave64o

    dave64o Talkbass Top 10 all time lowest talent/gear ratio! Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 15, 2000
    Southern NJ
    I agree 100%. After practicing for a while (well, actually more like a year or so) with my Boss DR-770 I'm pretty happy with how my drum lines come out. But you DO have to have the patience you need to put the time in to make it sound human.

    Some of the ways I do that:

    1) First I always "air drum" the drum line. This makes sure that it's something a real drummer could put off. If you've got a roll or a sweep going on and you're pounding out 16th notes on the kick, you can't sneak in some crashes, cowbells, or whatnot. Make sure it's something that sounds like one drummer on one kit. My wife laughs and son laugh at me when I do this, but it REALLY helps.

    2) DYNAMICS! I put a lot of time into slight variations in level for EACH strike. While I'm air drumming the part I try to get a feel for what those dynamics are and then program them in. I also think I'd rather not let a machine pick how it wants to randomize the drum track. I'm not sure how it would know the right places to put the variations every time.

    3) Vary the timing? I never really did so the timing on my drum tracks is always perfect. This partially laziness on my part because I spend so much time doing the first two things. If I had unlimited time I'd try this too. One way is to program some things and then program some things live (as opposed to using "step entry"), like maybe the snare, high hat patterns, etc. My comment about letting the machine do the variations applies here too.

    4) Keep the kit simple. I started out creating loads of custom kits on my drum machine and I settle on about 5 or 6 now and use them for everything.

    5) Minimize effects. Same "KISS" principle as above. Again, I got carried away when I first got it and then I finally figured this out also. So now I put the time into programming how the drum line gets played rather than how to make it sound "cool".

    6) Write out the drum track or at least take notes. This helps me get a picture of what it's doing, figure out what patterns I'll create, how many fills I need and where to put them, how to strings the patterns together to create the song, etc.

    Of course I'd prefer to have my own drum kit, or at least work with a drummer, but I know that isn't happening anytime soon so I make the best of it. My problem is that I get very little time these to put into playing and recording, so couple these ideas with my general lack of time and it ends up taking me a few months to complete just one song. :rolleyes:
  10. oddentity

    oddentity Supporting Member

    Nov 20, 2000
    I gotta concur on the Roland R8. I have one and love it. I also agree with Dave O's very good advice... especially on the dynamics...
  11. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    First off, I agree with Bruce.
    My drum machine forays are only meant to convey an idea &/or a feel on my half-baked grooves/tunes.
    Personally, I will always prefer a living, breathing, & THINKING entity next to me, communicating as we explore. Blah.

    Now, Frankencow-
    If you're thinking of playing to a machine within a band environment, make sure all of you guys have your s*** in a sock.
    If/WHEN someone screws up(like maybe missing an ending or playing an extra verse or spedding up/slowing down)...the machine doesn't screw up! It's blatantly 'there'. A 'real' drummer will either adapt or push to keep everyone together...
    BTW, I've heard a few bands stop the tune only to hear the machine playing an extra couple bars or so. That's pretty funny stuff(IMO)! ;)