What's your ideal drum sequencer

Discussion in 'Recording Gear and Equipment [BG]' started by Bakkster_Man, Jan 15, 2006.

  1. Bakkster_Man


    Jan 15, 2006
    As I'm sure anyone else who's tried to record drums at home knows, it's difficult and expensive to do right. If you use electronic drums, your sound usually seems dry and techno. The only way to get a good drum sound is to use a sequencer with a large number of samples, which gives enough dynamic variation to be believed as real. Many programs like this exist, but they are generally too costly for independent recording engineers.

    Searching for a solution I'm developing a free, open-source, JAVA drum sequencer primarily for independent/home recording, and am looking for input on features that you would want if you were to use it.

    Currently, input is a MIDI file, but it will be updatable to other input forms. Output will also initially be .wav, but it will again be updatable. I will be recording a drum sample set next summer, but new sets will be easily creatable and configurable.

    So, what would everyone like to see in a program like this. I'm open to any suggestions and will do my best to integrate them. I will also post a link to the program when I have a web host. Thanks in advance.
  2. APouncer


    Nov 3, 2000
    Lancashire, UK
    How's about some sort of randomising, or progressive change to each drum, eg. say I put 4 bass-drums in a bar, the program subtly alters the dynamics/tone/attack/decay etc of each bass drum so it doesn't sound so static.
  3. I applaud your drive to produce something like this.

    Are you talking about a virtual instrument that takes a ready programmed drum beat and makes it sound more realistic using live sampled drums, or something that does grid programming (like FL Studio) but with realistic drum samples?

    I'd think it would be important to allow velocity sensitivity for triggering different samples, and the ability (switch?) to turn a straight snare note into a flam.

    I have to ask though, and this really isn't a criticism, how do you see your software being different from a free VSTi "ROMpler" style samplers (Computer Music's DS404) or something like FL Studio (Fruity Loops version). My impression is that you can do a lot with these instruments with the right soundset. The most common criticism of FL is that the built in sounds of drumsets is geared primarily towards electronica / techno. This is a valid criticism, but I don't know that people dig below the surface to try it with their own samples.

    The ROMpler alternative (something like BFD) is the expensive option, but Computer Music's DS404 allows velocity sensitivity, sample ranges etc.

    Rather than reinventing the wheel (which sounds a bit uncharitable given what I think you're suggesting, but bear with me...) would it make more sense to produce a kick*** drum sample set first in REX (Reason?), Soundfont or DS404 set formats and then create your software, if needed, to expand on what can be done with your sample set?

    You may already have researched all of this and have a good strategy laid out. It would be really interesting to hear your thoughts.

    I'm in awe of people who devote time to making neat bits of software for the musical community. My favourite (Mobius - www.zonemobius.com) is a good example. Double thumbs up for seriously considering this project.
  4. You should have a look at Hydrogen - it is a freeware, open source drum machine compiled for Linux, Windows and Mac.

    Very nice and lots of cool features.
  5. Just to let you know there are few products on the market that allow you to sequence / sample very believeable drums in your DAW - Toontrack's DFH Superior and Fxpansion's BFD are the industry leaders. I have been using DFH Superior for about 6 months and the results I have gotten are pretty freakin' spectatcular - I fool musicians all the time in thinking they are real drums. I won't go into all the features but it's a robust program; different midi velocities pull different samples for the same drum to reflect that drum sounds very different tonally when played at different dynamics AND the program features a bleed control system that allows you to work with the samples as if you had the kit mic'd up in front of you. Good stuff - you should check it out...
  6. Bakkster_Man


    Jan 15, 2006
    Thanks for the input, everyone, it's quite helpful.

    At the moment, my program is not focused on sequencing. Its primary goal is better samples for realism (velocity picks sample, different dynamics, decay, etc), not creating the drum sequences itself. The input I have in mind is from a MIDI file, either exported from a drum machine (like hydrogen) or captured from electronic drum kits. While I may expand the program at some point to create loops and modify them on the fly, that's a secondary goal.

    As far as other similar programs (I've looked at DFH and some others), the big difference is I hope to make mine accessable to smaller bands and independents who cannot afford them. While DFH and many VST plugins have great versatility and sound, they are expensive, either to buy or use. I, myself, don't have $150+ to spend on drum sound, nor do many other musicians. My goal is to facilitate them with a free, open platform. I hope that at some point my program will be comparable to these comercial products, but if not I believe there is still a group of musicians who need free software to emulate drums.

    Hope that answers most of your questions. Ideally I plan to have a working build by fall, and I will be recording samples this summer with a good friend of mine. Thanks again for the input, and feel free to ask/suggest anything else.
  7. You should have a look at the NS kit - it's free and is probably the best sampled drum kit I have heard (100Megs+ of samples). There are configurations for turning the samples into Hydrogen sets, VSTi plugins, Battery kit sets, SoundForge sets.

    I like where you are going, but I'm just trying to stop you from reinventing the wheel.
  8. chardin


    Sep 18, 2000
    Rayzoon's Jamstix has nice samples and is an amazing value for $99. For $38 more (total $137), Drum Pak 2 combined with the Snare Pak will make you think twice about BFD ($299) or DFH ($269) for both the samples and price.

    The best part is that the drum grooves that Jamstix produces are great. Lots of flexibility or you can move a few sliders and have great drumming. Also, the support is excellent and the frequent 1.x upgrades have been free.
  9. mgade


    Nov 27, 2005
    Cool thread! I have hunted cheap drums for months now :-( Any freebee are soo welcome!!!

    I just downloaded NS Kit and Hydrogen. What is the best way to use NS Kit? The sounds are kille, but it seems tedious to build a drumtrack with Cool Edit Pro?

    I'm trying to get a grib on Hydrogen on a Win2K machine, but it seems shaky?
  10. Rayzoon's Jamstix is worth so much more than what it's sold for. Actually I ended up paying nothing for it since I did a product exchange with Ralph. But then as soon as the expansion packs started coming out... you just gotta have 'em all! :)
  11. Bakkster_Man


    Jan 15, 2006
    I don't think you quite get the idea. While I'm sure this Jamstix is a great sample set, it still costs money. An independent musician will still look at that and realise he has to either:
    a) Dish out another $100 on something that will likely net him very little.
    b) Settle with crappy drum sounds, either from a stale drum machine or sub-par mics.
    I hope that I can make a quality, free sample set and sequencer for those of us who don't have the cash otherwise. So now the question is: what parts of these sample sets (DFH, BFD, Jamstix) are the best to you? What features would you love to see in a new kit?

    By the way, I checked out the NS Kit, and I think I'm going to use the free version to test out my system.
  12. There's a download in the Hydrogen forums that has the necessary files to turn the NS Kit into a Hydrogen kit. Download and unzip it as directed, then download NS and unzip the wav files into the same place, and then away you go.