Drum Replacement Software?

Discussion in 'Tracking / Mixing / Editing' started by Suntower, Jul 27, 2010.

  1. Suntower

    Suntower Active Member

    This may sound totally stupid/noob, but anyone here used drum replacer software?

    Typically what I do is play 'real' drums to get the parts I want to play and then 're-record' them using MIDI triggers and sample libs. This is mainly because I don't have all the kit one needs to properly close mic a set... plus the set isn't that great.

    But then it dawned on me that, if the goal is -replacement- I don't -need- hi end mics---I just need clear acquisition, right? So... assuming I get some mics, I guess my question is "Jhow do the replacers 'work'?"

    I mean, I understand they'd be OK for boom-chick-boom-chick, but what about rolls, flams, side sticks, hi-hat sucks, ride bell vs. edge and so on? Do they even -work- on those sorts of thing and if so, how? Either there is some 'magic' I don't get or they probably aren't worth the time.

    Please enlighten me!


  2. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    spot on, you are thinking.

    There are a few, I'm biased to SPL ( Sound Performance Lab). Take a look at the New SPL drumxchanger. http://recording.org/content/399-spl-drumxchanger.html Others will chime in with suggestions that would be good choices I'm sure too.

    Good luck.
  3. Suntower

    Suntower Active Member


    But it still leaves the question... 'how do they work?' That SPL article implies that the thing somehow 'senses' what kind of hit has been made (eg. 'ghost' notes). Does it -really- identify, say a roll vs. a single hit? Not worth it to me if it only does simple staccato hits.


  4. Big K

    Big K Well-Known Member

    Drumxchanger and Drumagog can do this fairly well if you fine-tune the settings.
    In some cases it takes a bit of additional editing of the snare track.
    I used them on a number of productions with good results.
    I think, both have demos to download. You can check wich one is better for your purpose.

    Big K
  5. rwogh

    rwogh Active Member

    There is a HUGE article about this in the July 2010 edition of Recording magazine...hopefully you can find it on their site, have a subscription, or can find a copy somehow. The writer compares various techniques and programs to do this and how they work.
  6. Shadow_7

    Shadow_7 Active Member

    Midi is midi. Some of the soundfonts are pretty good. And some software out there to place those sounds in an acoustic space. But it's still midi. Various software to convert .wav to .mid, but it's still midi. You can setup various soundfonts for the finer details, but you'll likely need to manually edit the resulting .mid (from .wav) to those finer details. Depending on the complexity of the software in question. Time management wise, it might be worth it to just get the real deal if you have the chops to play at a level that warrants being recorded. Or mix and match some of those finer details in real .wav tracks with the synth versions.
  7. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Guest

    Here's something else to think about. A lot of folks here are young and/or are on very limited and exceptionally tight budgets. While there is a variety of both hardware and software to replace compromised sounding drums, one can choose to either record the drums, to be used as triggers, or use MIDI to record the drums which don't require any microphones. You need drum triggers. Now, here is the ultra cool thing. You can purchase actual drum triggers for approximately $20 US each. That can still rack up a bill higher than you anticipated. Conversely, here is one of those stupid, secret, audio engineer tricks. You go to Radio Shaft or any other company that features 1 $ piezo electric beepers/buzzers. You take them apart out of their plastic containers and tape the little round disc to the drum head. Put a 1/4 inch connector at the other end of the wire (10 to 15 feet maximum). This can actually be recorded as an audio signal and used as the audio trigger for drum replacement software. Also makes for an inexpensive acoustic guitar pick up when placed near the bridge. So $20 worth of piezo electric buzzers can be almost as valuable as 20 SM58's which would run about $2000. Now that's a deal!

    I turn plenty of tricks
    Mx. Remy Ann David
  8. Big K

    Big K Well-Known Member

    Yes, you also can use empty carton boxes and a 2 $ mic, but you have no control over sound and expression, which the new generation of drum replacer software can well adopt to.
    Up to 12, maybe more, different sounds for 1 and the same snare with great velocity sensitivity are available to produce the final sound. Play closer to the rim, hit it more flat, press the stick harder, hold it looser in the hands, use a wide field of the drum head, brighter, lower.....
    Good e-drums and quality triggers on real drums can transfer this to the Replacer, too, but a piezo or a cheapo microphone can't. All the finesse of the replacement softwares would be wasted.

    I don't get this Midi thing... The sounds from the replacers are all extremely well recorded audio files of rare and famous drumsets, as well as from electronic drum sound creations. There are a lot of libraries out there to cover any style and sound. Even your own recorded drum sounds can be used... Important is that the software can trigger fast and accurately. They do that and if you are stuck with a bad drum recording or a cheap beaten up drumset ( or you messed up when recording...) they can come as a blessing.

    Sure enough you can transform the whole recording into Midi and edit it in the Midi domaine, too, but I never do that. I use Melodyne for that in audio... Try those demos and free sounds and see for yourself if it is worth the 200 bucks for what you want to be done.

    In any case it would be desirable to always record tuned drumsets with good drummers in a controlled acoustic environment with excellent microphones. But life's bitch...lol...

    I am not selling those, but they safed my back a number of times and made work faster and easier... and still the band's drummer has to do a good job, not a stupid drum machine.
  9. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Guest

    Hey, some of the best drums I've recorded come from drum kits that look like they should have been thrown out long ago. And some of the worst sounding drums are from some of the coolest looking lavish drum sets. Some drums sound like crap live. While they sound fabulous in recordings. And vice versa. And tuning seems to be a really big issue with drums. Mostly because, most folks don't know how to. It's like any other instrument if it's not tuned properly. If your drums aren't tuned properly? You might want to send them back to the factory? Just kidding.

    Drum tuning 101
    Mx. Remy Ann David
  10. Suntower

    Suntower Active Member


    I still haven't got my head around the basic idea...

    If I play a press roll on my real snare and it is 'heard' by the drum replacement software (DRS), what is the 'output' of the DRS:

    a) a series of discrete midi 'hits'
    b) a single midi hit which triggers a 'roll' sample


    I just wanna know what the 'magic' is...

  11. Big K

    Big K Well-Known Member

    Just download the demos and try for yourself.
    There are different approaches to that....

    With those DRSs mentioned there are no midi hits.
    They replay audio files.
  12. Shadow_7

    Shadow_7 Active Member

    It depends on the software, it depends on the settings. If it goes to a midi stage, which you might want if you're not particularly good at a particular aspect. Then it's either a hit and a sustain, or a bunch of hits. And that might vary between versions and brands. You could probably spend a couple lifetimes figuring out all the options on certain software. Or just getting some of it installed in the first place. If you know the software you can pop out something decent pretty quick. If you don't it could take you a month to part out the instruments and find the sound(s) you want to replace it with.

    If you want to hit the snare and have it trigger a high hat sound, you'll likely have to go through the midi stage. If you want the drum sounds to distinguish the finer details, you could end up with 40+ midi sound types / tracks for a given song. For what was a single person hitting five drums with two sticks. Even if you pop out each track in five minutes in post, that's still several hours for what is probably a couple minute song. And just one of a dozen or more songs on an album.

    I say midi is midi because once you quantize timing and velocity there is basically no difference between left and right hands. No indication if you played matched or traditional. Every note sounds just like the previous note. And all those sparkles of perfection that no real human being could ever do in real time in real life for the duration of an entire song. That doesn't mean that it doesn't sound awesome and would otherwise get lost in a mix. But it sounds midi. Even with the best soundfonts money can buy.
  13. Big K

    Big K Well-Known Member

    No, ...
    Even if you quantize and set an equal velocity a good DRS will play out different sound samples of the same snare, unless you tell it to do otherwise. This will copy the human imperfection quite well and sounds very natural. With recorded drum tracks one can adjust how much of the drummers performance, like velocity, should be translated. In some cases, e.g. a bass drum with some weak hits, it is necessary to level more evenly. But that you do in conventional mixing, anyhow, as well.
    If you want a bass drum to become a tom, HiHat, snare...you simply change the sample to that.
    A complete drumset can be worked over in a few minutes. If there is a lot of crosstalk and rolls, etc. it might take longer. In a few cases you have to edit the track, but to get a decent sounding drumset with EQing and compressing it takes at least as long, more likely much longer.
    Mind you, I am a fan of real drums and use DRS in cases where it just needs to be done....

    The learning curve for those DRS is not all that steep. I'd say, in 2 days you know enough to manipulate the settings fairly well. How to adjust and mix the whole set depends on your level of skills. A problem can be to combine with the overhead tracks... But this is ever so different with every new recording. No golden rule there...
  14. gunsofbrixton

    gunsofbrixton Active Member

    From my point of view, I would say: not really.

    I am not an expert in drum replacement and others may be able to achieve better results, but I've played around with drum replacement quite a bit lately and this is what I would say from my experience:

    Snare Rolls: difficult, but possible. But you need to process the parts with rolls differently from the rest. You need to set different thresholds etc. But if you do it precisely, the result is quite natural. Provided that you work with a drum library that includes different hits for every velocity zone!!

    Flams: Again, difficult. No DRS (that I know) will recognize a snare flam. You either need to set recovery time very fast so that it triggers 2 samples or have a dedicated flam sample. But again, if you have flams and normal hits in a song you will probably have to process the 2 parts differently.

    Ghost notes: ok if you have only minimal spill from other mics on your snare track. But again: process independently from the normal hits. Best solution in my eyes: leave the ghost notes from the original track and replace only the strong hits.

    Ride bell vs. edge: forget it. How is the DRS gonna tell which is which?

    hi hat: dunno. never tried. probably the same thing as with the ride.

    Oh...and I would definitely use a DRS like Drumagog and not go the detour via midi.
  15. Suntower

    Suntower Active Member

    I wanna thank all who replied. I didn't get the auto-reply e-mail so I didn't know there was any activity. (There are a couple of 'things' about this site that are odd---like how it doesn't work with Roboform at all for me.)

    Anyhoo... thanks again. I'll try these. I guess I've always done the roundabout method I use because I have these big ticket sample libs that I've learned to manipulate pretty well with triggers. That said, -yeah-, I'd be gobsmacked if I could put contact mics on my Ludwigs, bash at it, hit the 'Drumagog' button and have a decent sounding performance. Worth a try even if I -am- still quite skeptical.


  16. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    I'm told its a Roboform issue.
    You aren't receiving notification because your provider is blocking recording.org. We had an issue with our mail relay being hacked which caused our ip to be blocked by some providers. Seems some bots where using our name to send out spam. We have added Domain Keys to help this from ever happening again.
  17. apstrong

    apstrong Active Member

    When my drumkit sucked and my mics and preamps sucked even more, I used Drumagog and came to pretty much the same conclusion as gunsofbrixton. I think you can do ride bell vrs edge in the same way as snare rolls, iirc, slice out that part of the track and put it on a separate track with different settings in a different instance of the DRS (i.e. use the bell sounds on that hit or hits, instead of the edge sounds). I cant remember if Drumagog came with a library of variations on the bell hits or if I got one off the web somewhere, but there are free .gog files out there and you can make your own so you've got a nice file of 15 different variations on a bell hit for variety to avoid mechanical repetition. You probably can't make as good quality samples as the drumagog people can unless you have a nice big studio with decent gear (which means you wouldn't need drumagog probably!) but you can do it. And there are various commercial libraries you could use or convert into .gog files. I imagine the same goes for other DRS software, though I've never used any of it and can't say for sure. The best way to capture a human performance is to capture a human performance. :) In the end, I found DRS software was pretty simple to use for anywhere from straight ahead drumming to moderately complex/slightly subtle drumming, but there's a point at which the drumming is too complicated, intricate or subtle so that it becomes too big of a pain in the butt to be worth it for me. You may have more patience.

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