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Making electronic drums/MIDI sound more "real"

Discussion in 'Recording Gear and Equipment [BG]' started by Justin V, Feb 28, 2006.

  1. Justin V

    Justin V

    Dec 27, 2000
    Alameda, CA
    My band is using our drummer's electronic drum kit and some assmebled at home soundfonts for recording our demo. The cymbals sound nice, if lacking in dynamics. The floor tom sounds surprisingly deep. But everything else sounds really "digital" and lifeless. When we use the software instruments in GarageBand on my laptop, the snare sounds better, but combining the samples is a real hassle.

    I was wondering what we could do to make the electronic kit sound more life-like. Admittedly, these are demo recordings so that we can save time when we record "for real", but we are handing them out at shows and getting local radio play. So I really want the recordings to sound as professional as possible. Especially since there aren't any real good studios within 200 miles of us.

    Thanks in advance.
  2. jokke_v


    Aug 15, 2003
    Bergen, Norway
    I would absolutely reccomend you to get Drumkit From Hell Superior. Although, you need 35gb of free hard disk-space, and a really powerful computer to use it.
    - http://www.toontrack.com/index_samples.shtml
    Alternatively get BFD
    - http://www.fxpansion.com/product-bfd-main.php

    These programs can both be used as VSTi's and, as far as I understand, are both pretty much set up and ready for using with e-drums.

    Now, those reccomendations were not coming from experience. What I've done with my band for recording drums is pretty different because of a limited budget. I've used the midi out on my drummers e-drums and recorded the midi-signal from them onto my computer. Then, I've used the first (oldest) version of Drumkit From Hell combined with ns_kit7 (free soundfont/sample pack: http://www.naturalstudio.co.uk/ns_kit7freedownload.html ), loaded into battery (sampler).

    When we recorded the drums, I made sure that the midi-signal didn't peak all the time (velocity at 127). Before we started recording, the drums were set up in such a way that more or less every hit were at 127 on the velocity level. So, we fiddled a bit with the kit until it didn't peak all the time. This way, we got a pretty dynamic midi-track. It sounded rather bad and weak with the sounds from his e-drums, and before doing anything, it sounded bad on the computer with Drumkit from Hell/ns_kit7.
    What I had to do was to use the midi-compression settings in cubase a bit until I got hard enough hits with the right dynamics. Because the initial signals were overly dynamic. After everything sounded all right, I exported the different drums to separate audio-tracks, and mixed them until they sounded decent enough.

    It has worked pretty all right, but when I'm looking back, my way of doing things has been overly complicated and stressful. It has been and still is a whole lot more work than what it could have been.. I found very little info on how to do things on the internet, so I've had to improvise a whole lot in order to get a decent enough result. Surely enough, I've learned a whole lot from it, and I can't deny that it hasn't been interesting and probably somewhat valuable. But, without even having tested the software I would absolutely reccomend BFD or Drumkit From Hell Superior, because these are already set up and ready to go for most e-drum kits, and offer some of the best drum-samples that you can get hold of.
  3. +1 on getting Superior, they really sound fantastic, with a little tweaking it is hard to tell that it is not a drummer.. BFD is probably good too, havent tried it though..