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Kendo Phil



Joined: 27/11/11
Posts: 70
Loc: South West
Midi sounds
      #1022836 - 06/12/12 07:39 PM
OK, I am still getting to grips with my introduction to home recording and limited by the fact that I cannot do anything that would keep the kids from their sleep or result in my neighbour pounding on the wall. So all my evening recording is done through my sound desk and headphones. I am trying to get my hands on rack mounted line 6 pod at the moment to bring my guitar tracks to life a bit.

I am using Audacity to lay down tracks, running everything through my sound desk and into the line-in on my PC.

This does present one problem - drum tracks.

My solution? I use Anvil Midi editor to send a drum midi sequence to my keyboard then record the audio out using Audacity. I then lay guitar over the top of this. Apart from a few track alignment problems it seems to work OK.

So I have two questions. Firstly, is this a sensible way of doing things? I like to keep everything running through the sound desk as I do live sound mixing and it gives me a chance to experiment with effects without impacting anybodies live set.

Second, the drum sound from my keyboard is very crude. I can add effects or push it through a compressor, but at the end of the day I want something that will generate a more realistic drum sound. I thought of buying a drum machine with midi connection, but was unsure if this would be the best way forwards?

--------------------
Dazed and confused


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BJG145



Joined: 06/08/05
Posts: 3521
Loc: Norwich UK
Re: Midi sounds new [Re: Kendo Phil]
      #1022857 - 06/12/12 09:20 PM
Quote Kendo Phil:

I use Anvil Midi editor



No. Stop. Desist.


Quote:

I thought of buying a drum machine with midi connection, but was unsure if this would be the best way forwards?



Get a DAW and a drum sample library. Eg, Reaper and EZDrummer.


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Kendo Phil



Joined: 27/11/11
Posts: 70
Loc: South West
Re: Midi sounds new [Re: BJG145]
      #1022871 - 06/12/12 10:31 PM
Quote BJG145:


No. Stop. Desist.





OK

Quote BJG145:


Get a DAW and a drum sample library. Eg, Reaper and EZDrummer.




Ah, the point of using an external sound source is that I get to play about running the sounds through the FX and compressor to get to grips with crafting the drum sounds. One of the band I do sound for has said they want compression on the kick and snare drums. I wanted to get some experience of compressing drum sounds on my own time. I figured building a drum loop from a decent electronic sound source such as a midi controlled drum machine would give me the opportunity to practice playing with compressor settings using headphones.

--------------------
Dazed and confused


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The Elf
active member


Joined: 14/08/01
Posts: 9712
Loc: Sheffield, UK
Re: Midi sounds new [Re: Kendo Phil]
      #1022917 - 07/12/12 09:17 AM
Quote Kendo Phil:

I want something that will generate a more realistic drum sound.



Then, as above, go for a good drum library. I like the Stephen Slate stuff, but Addictive Drums and Superior Drummer are very good too.

I couldn't be bothered using multiple pieces of software - any decent DAW should allow you to do all of your MIDI editing and sound-shaping in one place. Going out to a hardware mixer is alays an option, but there's really no need given the tools provided in a typical modern DAW.

--------------------
An Eagle for an Emperor, A Kestrel for a Knave.


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tim_obrien



Joined: 04/07/06
Posts: 169
Re: Midi sounds new [Re: Kendo Phil]
      #1023061 - 07/12/12 06:12 PM
Audacity is really a 2-channel stereo sound editor with multi-track added on.
It doesn't even do midi, as you have found out.

Check out Reaper (or Cubase or Sonar or whatever tickles you, but Reaper is cheaper and you can use it for 60days free).


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Goddard



Joined: 04/04/12
Posts: 955
Re: Midi sounds new [Re: Kendo Phil]
      #1023080 - 07/12/12 07:31 PM
Hi Phil, see you've gone for a Pod. Hope that's working for you.

As for getting drum sounds, lots of options available, both inside- and outside-the-box.

Besides host-based softsynth/sampled drums running on a pc as already mentioned, for outside-the-box use there are also smallish MIDI modules with various and sundry MIDI-triggerable sounds including percussion (like in your keyboard, but more, typically Roland GS or Yamaha XG) and there are also smallish "drum machines" and "rhythm machines" with sampled drum kit (and often, bass also) sounds, many with built-in sequencers and smallish pads or keys for tapping-in and programming, which can be synced with DAWs via MIDI. While most will be limited to 16-bit samples and might not sound as nice/lush as host-based samples they might still be fine for your needs (CDs are only 16-bit too).

Roland, Yamaha, Alesis and Zoom have all offered MIDI modules and/or drum/rhythm boxes, so you should find a wide selection available secondhand and probably for very good prices since nowadays most people use host-based samples. Check SOS article/reviews for more info.

Don't know what keyboard you're using, but it might also offer some alternative drum kits (you'll likely need to send it MIDI sysex commands to access its other patch banks, if any), so check your manual for whether any other sounds are available.

And as has already been mentioned, Audacity, although a wonderful application, is really too limited for use as a DAW. Plenty of low cost entry level and "lite" version DAW applications to choose from which would serve you better for what you want to do/learn. Download some trial versions and take them for a test drive.


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Kendo Phil



Joined: 27/11/11
Posts: 70
Loc: South West
Re: Midi sounds new [Re: Goddard]
      #1023187 - 08/12/12 03:41 PM
I haven't got my hands on a Pod yet as I am trying to find a rack mounted one - there are plenty of the "kidney bean" shaped ones about but only a handful of rack mounted I have come across.

I have been told that the Pod is the dogs danglers as far as amp emulation and home recording goes. I have never used one myself so I am keen to hear peoples experience of them. I have also been looking at the Behringer V-amp which seems to be a bit more available.

--------------------
Dazed and confused


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Magic Matt



Joined: 17/09/10
Posts: 141
Re: Midi sounds new [Re: Kendo Phil]
      #1023207 - 08/12/12 05:13 PM
I don't like the Pod much. I have one and also have the Vox ToneLab. I find the Vox to be far more hands-on, and I prefer the sounds. The Pod is great for FX, but it sounds more processed to me. I guess it depends what you like though.

You have a band that want compression on the kick and snare. I have a drummer that needs some compression too - for telling the sound guy how to do his job! What compression settings you need depends on the venue, the PA you're using, the mics, the position of the mics, the type of drums... point is, you'll learn sweet FA about the real world using a synthesized drum machine sound through FX - it's a totally different type of sound to a real drum sound. You'll learn a lot more putting sampled drums from a good drum VST into some software plugins, or even routing it out into your FX rack and back to the desk (you'll need a good multi-channel sound interface for that though). The nice thing about going the software VST route is virtually unlimited options, and instant switching between settings. You want to compare 4 or 5 different compression settings on a compressor - it's about 2 mouse clicks to switch - unbeatable. Want to change the drum sounds - just load a different sample set - go from a rock kit to a jazz kit in about 3 mouse clicks. Sound quality is leagues ahead of all but the most expensive drum machines. Don't get me wrong, I like hardware, but it's a pain in the backside at home as it costs a fortune to buy in the first place, just takes up space in the room, eats electric, throws out more heat, and creates more wires everywhere - all that extra hassle for a very small gain in sound quality which is probably partially lost on the way back in through the desk and ADC to the PC anyway, hence I only use it when I have to.

Oh, and one thing to note - bit depth accounts for very little with drum samples compared to sample rate and length. Most drum machines have limited memory, which means even if they claim 24bit, the samples are often short and low sample rate compared to a really good software VST that will have possibly Gbs of samples. It's realistic to say some software VSTs have more in depth data on one drum than some drum machines have for the whole kit. So yeah, software sounds better, unless you have mega-bucks to throw at the top-end drum machines.

Ditch the MIDI editor and Audacity. Seriously. It's creating hassle you don't need. You need an all-in-one audio and MIDI DAW because that makes life a billion times easier. I use Sonar, but I played with Reaper recently and was really impressed given the price.

Just my 2p worth.

Edited by Magic Matt (08/12/12 05:19 PM)


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Goddard



Joined: 04/04/12
Posts: 955
Re: Midi sounds new [Re: Magic Matt]
      #1023228 - 08/12/12 08:03 PM
Hmm, I didn't think Phil was looking to compress drums per se (e.g. ala Ringo's classic close mic'ed and compressed sound) but had only been doing so to punch up the weak drum sounds available from his MIDI keyboard for which he was seeking a better alternative drum sound source?

Or perhaps I misread? Looking back I see I'd missed that Phil had already mentioned the possibility of a drum machine.

Anyway, I knew already from an earlier topic that Phil was operating on a rather limited budget and with a fairly low powered PC, which is why I'd pointed out that drum machines and sound modules can be picked up quite cheaply since having fallen out of favor as people now use sampled drums in-the-box, and explanation has also been given as to why samples have gained favor, so...

I do wonder if using ITB sampled drums might complicate things wrt getting the sounds out of the PC and then into Phil's mixer, which is what I took Phil was after (to simulate a live gig sound scenario). But it could certainly be done using an audio interface with the adequate number of outputs (an extra pair would do). Although, then again, to simulate a studio sound scenarion one would probably want to take out many more channels of drums into a desk with corresponding ins so as to simulate mic'ing a kit using more mics, in which case staying completely inside the box and using a DAW's "as many as you want" sound sources and desk emulation would be the way.

An external drum machine or sound module typically offers L and R line outs which could go into Phil's mixer without requiring an interface with more outs, and could simplify monitoring from the mixer as in a live gig scenario.

But I would agree that if one wants to track some nice drum sounds in a DAW, then VST/sampled drums are a good way to go.

Although, then again, I've heard and used some very nice and tweakable sampled drums out of some add-in cards in some external MIDI modules and keyboards which might possibly be picked up on the cheap these days, so...


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Kendo Phil



Joined: 27/11/11
Posts: 70
Loc: South West
Re: Midi sounds new [Re: Goddard]
      #1023236 - 08/12/12 10:18 PM
Thank you Goddard, on the money as usual.

Yes, a big part of it is to mock up the live set up to be able to experiment with different FX and settings to get more out of my live mixing. For example one of the bands I have been working with asked me to add pronounced echo to Zombie by the Cranberries so after much playing with their desk I found that 'Church' gives the depth of echo they were after. However, they don't use FX during rehearsals and need it to right during gigs. They were happy with what I did and wanted me to add a similar echo to the loud bits of I predict a riot, which I duly added. This meant being on and off the FX send level during the song to tie the echo in with the music.

I have also been asked to record live sets, having tried this in the past I have found varying levels of success. I found that a good live sound doesn't always translate to a good recorded sound. I have taken recordings from the line / tape out point from the sound desk to a digital sound recorder.

So there in a nut shell it is, I am trying to create a contrived mock live set up so that I can try different settings and get to play with FX and compression settings. I understand that getting anything like a real drum sound will be very difficult without actually having a live kit in the room next to me.

The new band I am working with have said that they use compression on drums, most of my experience is with pub bands and because of the venue size the drums were rarely needed to be mic'd up, let alone compression. I would like to get a feel for the effects that compression has on drums and how different attack and decay levels affect the sound.

--------------------
Dazed and confused


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Goddard



Joined: 04/04/12
Posts: 955
Re: Midi sounds new [Re: Kendo Phil]
      #1023461 - 10/12/12 01:41 PM
Hi again Phil, always glad to help.

You might look at the Roland DR-880 which offers some very nice sampled drum sounds plus also offers guitar and bass amp sim and fx, with analog, coax s/pdif and USB outputs. Not a rack guitar fx unit, but might tick a few boxes on your list at the same time, and might be available secondhand for a good price if you're lucky/patient.


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