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Sample Pads & Electronic Drum Modules

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Sample Pads & Electronic Drum Modules

Postby woodnut » Wed Feb 05, 2020 3:27 pm

Hello folks,

I am looking at options for dipping a first toe into the world of vdrums. I am looking for something that will hopefully sound good enough to record some backing to the music I make and record. I have been looking at percussion pads, sample pads and electronic drum kits.

The percussion pads look very attractive since they are so compact but I have noticed that the ones I have been looking at appear to offer only two sample layers per pad that can be triggered depending on the velocity. If I am looking for something that might sound more realistic however, surely I would need more than two samples to create the variation that would mimic a real drum more closely?

Am I looking in the wrong place by looking at percussion pads? Do electronic drum kits tend to offer this feature? Reading around and watching some demos, i can't seem to quite get a clear idea on this aspect. Often it sounds like the same sample I am hearing or it is just varying in volume.

Many thanks in advance!
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Re: Sample Pads & Electronic Drum Modules

Postby desmond » Wed Feb 05, 2020 3:46 pm

In my experience, very few of these sound "realistic", but it kind of depends on what your requirements are.

Even videos of the latest, high-end Roland V-Kits, played by good drummers, sound depressingly "machiney" (and there's no reason they should, by now). The hardware is usually pretty good these days (though pads vary by feel of course), but it's the sounds/brains that are the problem. None of them come close to playing a good drum sample library - even back when I owned a Roland V-Kit, the difference between playing the inbuilt sounds, compared to playing a good drum sample library was a world away.

Now, it may be that the products around sound good enough for your needs - spend a bit of time on YouTube/manufacturers sites etc and listen to the demos, to see whether you like them.

There's also quite a bit of difference between a pad or two that you can hit to record percussion parts, and a full-size kit, which does require some drumming chops to play in a useful way, unless you are hard quantising every to 16ths (and then you're not looking for a natural sounding drum part anyway, which defeats the point a bit.)
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Re: Sample Pads & Electronic Drum Modules

Postby The Elf » Wed Feb 05, 2020 3:54 pm

MIDI your pads up to more sophisticated kit samples. Myself I use a cheap Yamaha DD65, but I'm firing it into Steven Slate Drums, which are stunningly good.
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Re: Sample Pads & Electronic Drum Modules

Postby fruitcake » Wed Feb 05, 2020 6:50 pm

1st caveat, I’m a crappy drummer. But I wanted drum sounds with a more natural sound. I tried a few different pads and didn’t like the feel. I’ve ended up with Yamaha DTX kit triggering Superior Drummer sounds. I’m happy with the sound and feel. Now I need to learn to keep a beat :headbang:
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Re: Sample Pads & Electronic Drum Modules

Postby woodnut » Thu Feb 06, 2020 12:59 pm

Thanks a lot for the replies folks, it has certainly got me thinking.

Having listened to a few youtube demos, I have now realised the better sounding ones using an electronic drum kit were indeed on closer inspection running through a computer and a VST library.

I downloaded a demo of EZ drummer and was quite impressed though I was only able to trigger from a keyboard since I have no actual drum pads yet.

I still wasn't sure how many actual samples of each drum there are in EZ drummer. There seemed to be some variation and life in there but I couldn't really tell if this was mostly just the volume of the sample varying with velocity. It may not have helped that I was using a keyboard to trigger.

I can't seem to find much information about the sampling methods for the various top of the pile VST drum libraries such as Slate, EZ Drummer, Superior Drummer and the like. Does anyone know of any libraries that do feature multiple samples that can be triggered by the velocity of the midi input?




Regarding pads, aside from the ergonomics and the feel of the pads in question, is it fair to say that even the low end electronic drum kits will be capable and sensitive enough to get a the most out of any such library that might offer multiple sample layers?

Something like the Yamaha DD65 or a cheap electronic drum kit was what I am now thinking paired with a good drum library. I would like to try slate drums but couldn't find a download demo when I looked last night.

Many thanks again!
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Re: Sample Pads & Electronic Drum Modules

Postby desmond » Thu Feb 06, 2020 1:44 pm

woodnut wrote:I can't seem to find much information about the sampling methods for the various top of the pile VST drum libraries such as Slate, EZ Drummer, Superior Drummer and the like. Does anyone know of any libraries that do feature multiple samples that can be triggered by the velocity of the midi input?

*All* of the big libraries do this, it's standard practice. Not only multiple velocity hits over a good range of velocities, but round-robins (so there are multiples of each sample that the instrument rotates through if you should play the same drum at the same velocity), and with multiple mic positions for each hit that you can mix between etc.

woodnut wrote:Regarding pads, aside from the ergonomics and the feel of the pads in question, is it fair to say that even the low end electronic drum kits will be capable and sensitive enough to get a the most out of any such library that might offer multiple sample layers?

It really depends - it you buy a super-cheap box, it might only have limited sensors with only a few velocity levels. You'll need to check with the devices that you are interested in. If you go a little higher, then yes, virtually everything should support the full 127 velocity range, with customisable velocity curves...
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Re: Sample Pads & Electronic Drum Modules

Postby ManFromGlass » Thu Feb 06, 2020 1:51 pm

Something else to consider -
If you don’t want to play the entire kit in one pass then something like the McMillen BopPad along with a good drum library will let you lay down a drum track at a time so you can focus on getting that feeling right before you move onto the next track.
This wouldn’t feel right if you already play drums, but if you don’t then it shouldn’t be a problem.

Another option could be a used octopad or drumkat.
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Re: Sample Pads & Electronic Drum Modules

Postby woodnut » Fri Feb 07, 2020 12:25 pm

Thanks again folks for the replies, its been really helpful for me since I'm so new to all this.

I'm currently focussing on which library to get and then I'm going to work from their to figure out what I'm going to use to trigger it. I'm certainly no drummer but what I'm after will be certainly not in the mix "foreground" and won't contain elaborate fills! I am now leaning a little towards a proper electronic drum set despite a slight space issue.

Last night I continued using EZ Drummer which I have on 10 day demo, I also stumbled across BFD3 and got the demo for that to compare, both triggered by my arturia keystep for the time being. I've got to say, BFD3 blew me away with how raw and powerful the kits sound. I really felt like I was in the room up close, listening to the kit being played prior to any mixing or polishing. It hit me that this raw presentation will be easier to fit with other elements that I am recording versus the polished sound of EZ Drummer. EZ Drummer sounds great but it actually sounds a little too polished and processed next to the other tracks that I am laying down. From what I read this is the point of EZ Drummer that the drums are finished and ready to go.

The only thing that has held me back from pulling the trigger on BFD3 is the snare, while it sounded great I noticed that any rolls or hits that occur close together sounded remarkably similar, possibly the same, giving rise to what I have heard mentioned as the "machine gun" effect. In EZ drummer, with the same triggers I can hear different samples being cycled even when its the same velocity trigger. The snare sounds much more real with fills and was a joy to mess around with, even from my keystep.

It might be that there are settings that I haven't found in BFD3 or perhaps they are not there in the demo version. If anyone has any relevant experience of BFD3 that they could share I would be grateful.

Alternatively, maybe Superior Drums is the way to go, although there is no way to demo it to be sure. I have read that this produces raw results that need mixing. Perhaps this is just a raw version of EZ Drummer?

Many thanks again.
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Re: Sample Pads & Electronic Drum Modules

Postby Alba » Fri Feb 07, 2020 1:23 pm

My mate uses a basic commercial electronic kit to trigger ezdrummer and its so good that sometimes when he has his eyes shut he grabs a cymbal to stop it ringing (which it doesn't of course.)

We experimented with lots of things, even DIYing the first kit based on Paul White's DIY trigger article (on SOS somewhere). That worked well.

Its not the same and I feel a bit sorry for him not being able to use a real kit, he misses it of course. But you have to play the instrument you have in your hands and make the best of its strengths.

Main advantage is that to record a kit well you need a good room and some decent mics and those sample library boys have already done all that for you.
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Re: Sample Pads & Electronic Drum Modules

Postby MOF » Fri Feb 07, 2020 1:39 pm

My mate uses a basic commercial electronic kit to trigger ezdrummer and its so good that sometimes when he has his eyes shut he grabs a cymbal to stop it ringing (which it doesn't of course.)
I’m sure I’ve seen videos of electronic kits that do trigger a hand muted cymbal sample to replace the sustained sample.

Edit see here https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=OXFq_ts29eA
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Re: Sample Pads & Electronic Drum Modules

Postby woodnut » Fri Feb 07, 2020 2:44 pm

I just found out about the AMG anti machine gun mode in BFD3.

Not sure if this is available on the demo version, but will have to have a look when I have another go on the demo.
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Re: Sample Pads & Electronic Drum Modules

Postby The Elf » Fri Feb 07, 2020 3:31 pm

I'd still recommend a Kontakt-based solution over any of the other options mentioned above. That give you total flexibility to use any of the free or commercial kits out there if what you have doesn't suffice. Plus you have a sample player with thousands of libraries of any non-drum material you care to mention.
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Re: Sample Pads & Electronic Drum Modules

Postby Martin Walker » Fri Feb 07, 2020 11:05 pm

The Elf wrote:I'd still recommend a Kontakt-based solution over any of the other options mentioned above. That give you total flexibility to use any of the free or commercial kits out there if what you have doesn't suffice. Plus you have a sample player with thousands of libraries of any non-drum material you care to mention.

I tend to go along with The Elf here. Kontakt is bundled with loads of basic drum kit sounds, including loads of other useful drum-based samples such as Urban Beats and World Percussion, plus all the other instruments from Vintage drum machines, keyboards and synths, Band (yes, yet more drums), Orchestral, Choirs...

You may find you don't need anything else!


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Re: Sample Pads & Electronic Drum Modules

Postby desmond » Sat Feb 08, 2020 1:38 am

woodnut wrote:EZ Drummer sounds great but it actually sounds a little too polished and processed next to the other tracks that I am laying down. From what I read this is the point of EZ Drummer that the drums are finished and ready to go.

Investigate the mixer presets, and play with the balances of the different kit mics. You may be surprised how much you can change things.

woodnut wrote:Alternatively, maybe Superior Drums is the way to go, although there is no way to demo it to be sure. I have read that this produces raw results that need mixing. Perhaps this is just a raw version of EZ Drummer?

No, it's a more powerful version of EZ Drummer. It even loads the same kits/expansions, it just has more tweak potential. The default kits and SDX expansions are different, but they are produced by the same team and so have similar aesthetics...
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Re: Sample Pads & Electronic Drum Modules

Postby ManFromGlass » Sat Feb 08, 2020 2:18 pm

Woodnut - are you listening to the libraries on their own or are you auditioning them mixed with other instruments? Not trying to make things more complicated but how the drums sit in a song may impact your decision too.
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Re: Sample Pads & Electronic Drum Modules

Postby woodnut » Sun Feb 09, 2020 11:43 am

Thanks again for the replies and advice. Perhaps I was a bit hasty, but as soon as I saw the YouTube demo of BFD3 and the AMG anti machine gun mode with its various settings for using round robin samples, I ordered BFD3. I loved the sound I was getting from it, but was just hesitant over that one aspect of the snare fills.

I had been demoing it and EZ drummer with some of my recorded material to get context and BFD3 was sitting much more nicely due to its rawness and feeling that it was a freshly recorded kit.

Certainly I've possibly missed a trick by not auditioning kontakt, it wasn't on my radar for some reason but I will have to give it a try in the future.

As for the pads, I'm thinking of an electronic drum kit, perhaps a second hand Roland or maybe getting a separate drum module and building up around that as funds allow.
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