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The Industry Standard For Midi Drums

Discussion in 'Composing / Producing / Arranging' started by ChrisH, Nov 6, 2015.

  1. ChrisH

    ChrisH Active Member

    Is there an industry standard VST for acoustic and electric Midi Drums/Percussion ?
    The bundled VST Percussion instruments that came with Cubase 7.5 are alright but I cant help but feel like they don't sound all that great. The majority of major label records released these days are using midi drums but they sound great.
    So how are they doing it?
  2. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

  3. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    They'd probably layering in samples, they've squire over the years, with whatever they record live. I've always thought BFD was the most realistic feeling program from a mixing point of view. The samples are top notch. My cousin and I have been using it as our go since version 1.5. BFD along with the Vienna instruments symphonic collection, will for the foundation of my sample collection, soon enough.
    audiokid likes this.
  4. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

    Majority ?? I don't think this is true, a part form dance and electronic music, a lot of accoustic drums are used. But some music styles are reknown for using drum replacement. Like Metal in which, god knows why, the drum sound target is nothing like a real accoustic drum, so it's hard to obtain with one...

    What major label do with samples is to treat them like instruments. They usually send each instruments of a kit to seperate tracks to mix them from scratch. If a billboard song was released with an actual untouched easydrummer preset, I'd like to know ;)

    So back to the question; for exemple, standard for hiphop would be the sounds from classic drum machine (TR-808 or TR-909),
    But I still believe an accoustic drum can be tuned and mixed in so many ways that an accoustic could be used for a majority of styles..
    (must come from the fact that I'm a drummer lol)
  5. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    Well, I don't know what "majority" is being defined as here... are all current commercial recordings using sample replacement? No, I don't think so... but I'd wager that they are being used a lot more than they were just a few years ago, and, I don't think it's indigenous to just one or two styles, either. I wouldn't be the least surprised to learn that sample replacement is currently being used in Rock, Country, Blues, hell, maybe even Funk and Jazz for that matter...

    That's the thing, and a solid point... but I think it applies to both real drums and samples drums. Do you really need an actual 808 anymore? I don't think so, not with all the sonic sculpting tools that we now have at our disposal.
    Taking a regular acoustic kick sample, or even a real kick, and sculpting it in tone - EQ, Filters, GR - I'd find it hard to believe that you couldn't get very close to an 808, if you had an 808 to reference, and if you knew what you were doing with sonic sculpting.

    I can take a sample of a Slate or Superior Ludwig Black Beauty snare - which both sound totally different, but at the same time, both sound okay to me - certainly useable, but neither really sound anything like my real Black Beauty snare.
    Why? Because of the so many variables involved... differences in tuning, head and snare tensions, different heads, playing styles, not to mention the mics used to record it, etc.., so it's probable that no two real BB's would sound alike, and we're talking about real snare drums here... add into this the virtually limitless ways in which to sculpt those recorded tracks - or samples of them - and by the time you're done, through EQ, GR, mic placement, etc., it could end up sounding totally different from the original snare track or sample you started out with.

  6. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    As soon as I starting layering samples in, it was an aha moment. I think most comercial music 'radio song' use samples. I doubt there are many at all using a purely acoustic drum sound, and a full or partially full performance. I don't think it's possible to get that type of punch and definition otherwise.

    It's funny you hear people trying to edit in 'mistakes' or 'feel' into some of these indie recordings and its gross, lol it's stuff they woulda edited even on tape.

    I think since about 78' we've been hearing sampled drum sounds on records.

    Then there's Nile Rogers in chic who was a dance band who recorded live with no click.
  7. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Plus I include the MPC Renaissance as the controller
    kmetal likes this.
  8. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

    Another overlooked aspect of midi controlled drums is the way they've been programmed.
    Many try to emulate a human feel and fail. Make a good drummer sit down and play with sticks on a drum with triggers or an electronic drum will give very different results
    Quite more natural than fingers on pads or a keyboard...
  9. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    You have to really have a solid handle on programming if you want to grab the feel or essence of a real drummer... it also helps a lot if you're a drummer - things like stick drags, phantom taps and slides, rolls, flams, variations in velocities, and a lot of other nuances, that on their own can be subtle, but can add up to making the track more realistic - or less, as the case may be.

    It's certainly not impossible to program "feel", I've done it plenty of times myself - but, even though I'm a drummer, and well-versed in Midi, it still takes quite a bit of time to get it to sound "right". It's not even so much about the drum sounds... it's how you program them that counts.

    If given a choice, I'd much rather replace a well-performed but bad sounding/ poorly recorded drum track with good sounding samples, than I would to have to program the track from scratch.

    And, sample replacement isn't an "instant" fix, either - it still takes tweaking; sometimes a little, sometimes a lot - but it's still faster than programming from scratch; unless of course you're doing the tracks for something like Word Up or She Drives Me Crazy, where the drum pattern remains exactly the same from start to finish, and which is nothing more than Kick/Snare/Hat - and where the drum tracks weren't really meant to sound like real drums, anyway.
    JayTerrance likes this.
  10. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Nothing beats real musicians. I mean, who wants to look at a DJ?
    But this question is subjective and really about midi.

    Most commercial music, Pop rock can all be done using drum samples and drum machines. The only time drum programming becomes a challenge is when you are into more progressive music.

    The best produced pop music is always a simple drum track "less is more". Busy drums including home studio recorded drums generally destroy the sale ability of pop music.
    I could name 10,000 songs that have been or can be all be done using drum samples triggered by drum machines. The only people who would see that as a negative would be the recordist who wasted endless hours trying to get the drums to sound big... and the drummer who was all bent out of shape because his kit wasn't in the song.
    The public does not care. In fact, they like that sound.

    Tom Petty, The Cult , ZZ Top, Lenny Kravitz, MJ, Collective Soul, Billy Idol, Def Leppard, Don Henley, Peter Gabriel and this list goes on and on and on.... . But, again, vocal strong, pop arrangements.
    In fact, the sound of sampled drums sound much better than anything you can get in most studios for a reason. That's why drum machines have become main stream, 40 years and counting. Well, at least as far back as I go ;


  11. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    Yup. And the other thing about those home-recorded drum tracks, is that there are so many crucial factors that need to be there; I refer to them as being "mission critical"... LOL.

    The drums, heads, the room, tuning, cymbals, the room, the player and their style, the room, the mics, mic placement, the pre's, and oh ... wait ... did I mention the room?...
    Along with the skill of the engineer miking the kit, and recording all of those things...

    Of course, if you have all of those things working for you, then sure, use live drum tracks. Most certainly, if you have all of those prerequisites in play, then you should absolutely go for it.
    But ... that's generally not the average scenario in home studios. Honestly, you probably have more going against you than you do working for you.
    Home studios just don't have those things to their advantage - and neither do some mid-level studios, for that matter.

    There's an art to recording a live drum kit, and there's a lot more to it than simply throwing a D112 on the kick, a 57 on the snare, a couple 58's or 421's on the toms, and a pair of XY, A-B, M-S or ORTF OH's and then hitting the "R" button on your DAW.

    It's my feeling that the majority of those people who nay-say sample replacement haven't really used it, or they haven't really explored it enough to hear what's available these days - or, they're biased, from basing the new technology on the sound of something they heard or worked with years ago; something ancient, like an 808, or an old Linn or something.
    (Not that the 808 and the Linn haven't been used on countless hits... but they never really sounded like "real" drums do... certainly not to the extent of the samples we have today).
    Even the Alesis D4, and the follow-up D5, which broke new ground in the early 90's with its stunning 16 bit samples LOL ( they did sound pretty good at the time, though) was also used on plenty of hit records; but it too sounds pretty dated now, compared to what we're hearing these days.

    Roger Nichols was using sample replacement back in the 70's with his Wendel Computer when he was working on both Steely Dan's Gaucho and Fagan's Nightfly... and if you think that Fagan ( and Becker) aren't both sticklers for fidelity... LOL... I guess what I'm suggesting is that if cats like Fagan ( and Nichols) were okay with it - along with an audiophile community who still raves about the sound of those albums - then I can't see why anyone else wouldn't be okay with it too, especially by today's standards in drum sample fidelity.

    And, the fact that you can still preserve the original performance - the feel, the groove and pocket, the little nuances that real drummers use as part of their own style of playing, grace notes, phantom sticking, etc., all of those things can be preserved.
    You're not replacing the performance, you're simply replacing the sounds.

    Like it or not ( I happen to like it, and I say that as being both an engineer and a drummer), sample replacement isn't going away, and it's not just a "fad", either. Artists and Studios have been using drum machines, drum sounds, and triggering for a long time now. So, unless you have all those things that are absolutely necessary to getting a great live drum sound on your recordings - and I mean to really do it well - you're much better off using samples than you are using a live drum track that sounds weak, or empty, or dead, or, as so often happens, ends up being a mish-mash of all kinds of frequency and potential phase problems.

    IMHO of course. ;)
  12. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    Drums, aren't the hardest part about programming. And a good drummer is going to be fairly consistent, and his feel will often relate to grove and pocket, rather than nuance or fill playing ability. Especially in comercial pop rock where the drums and bass are the basic driving pulse or rythmic backbone, or the 'motor' as Phil calls it. Because of good arrangement, the percussion and the like, will fill in the rythmic accents, not the drummer, or bass player or guitarist lol.

    Cymbals are the hardest part about authentic drum programming, imho. They are difficult to record live too. That is one area where current digital mediums don't 'quite get it right' yet. A place where super high sample rates will hopefully fill in those 'nano gaps' which I believe err a sesnse of hollow.

    I'd rather go w rock preset 7 lol get to laying the riff down and structuring the song, then pay a drummer some beer at a later time, and track the final takes to the drummer.

    Strings and bass, and guitars, are much more difficult to program imo.

    I think a lot of home studio people start becoming the bass player, singer, engineer, and it's too many hats. A demo is one thing. I have heard enough of my own recordings to know how much I can fake it. It's absurd to think that just because I play guitar, I can play bass, well enough to really hold down a grove at a comercial level. Or sing. Need me too slap a shreddy solo at the bridge off the cuff? That's my department lol.

    Whatever floats your boat. These are all tools and colors on a pallete. A demo is a demo, and I think of people knew what to expect out of their own gear, they would not be striving for unrealistic levels of quality, and perhaps get creative.

    Old tricks like overdubbing the cymbals, and putting a speaker on a snare drum, playing a programmed snare thru the speaker, and micing the live drum, have been around since before I learned them in my beloved, (lol) 'using your portable studio' book.

    As soon as I reached a certain experience level, and recorded a pro drummer in a pro room, it clicked. Recording all these regional cover bands quick demos, schooled me on pop arrangement.

    When you hear a platinum mixer on the same mid level gear, you are using, you get a feel for where skills meet facility.

    Learning acoustics and basic electronics has changed my thoughts drastically, on what a great room is, what's necessary and what's not. Understanding how and why gear sounds a certain way, might save you some coin, by avoiding the 'name brand' nostalgia.

    The bottom line, is your translation is as good as your skills and the room. There will always be deficiencies in the product, directly related to deficiencies in gear and acoustic enviornment. In essence some are just not their, physically or audibly.

    Authentic, or good sounding or not, I can't argue that the amazingly large pallet available to take the sounds in our minds, and make them a reality, are better here than not.
  13. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    How are you guys triggering? I use drums gig at the studio, but am unsure if it's worth the purchase at home. I'd like something to trigger BFD, and the ability to easily load in my own samples either purchased, or recorded.
  14. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    I use and love the MPC Renaissance most but I also use a Nord Lead 4. Any touch sensitive keyboard will do.
    kmetal likes this.
  15. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    So you perform the programmed drum parts?
  16. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

    I got a Roland TD9 which made most sens to use for me ;)
    kmetal likes this.
  17. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    The MPC pads are amazing. And it interfaces with a DAW really well. The samples that come with the MPC are stellar. The MPC is the most incredible sequencer I have ever owned. I go nowhere without one. Without exaggeration, an MPC has made me hundreds of thousands of dollars over the years.

    I've been programming drums since 1980. I've never used pre programmed loops. I do it all bar by bar however, I will replace drums so at that point, the replacement ( as Donny described above so well) is the performance, just not the sound.
    When replacing, more often than not, I still end up correcting all the timing and volume level inconsistencies. POP music and Bass G needs to be dead center and in phase. That's what this brings to the table.

    The MPC's have always been the most realistic/ ultimate drum controller made. There are others, but the MPC is a drummers kind of controller.
    Whats so ironic about all the real drums vs an MPC . The guy playing the MPC is simply a drummer using tiny pads. The guy playing skins is simply using a different kind of drum set. In the end, its still drums making a beat performed by a human.
    An MPC is every bit of an electronic instrument as a keyboard. Anyone producing music should own one. Every studio should have at least one.
    Sean G and kmetal like this.
  18. audiokid

    audiokid Staff


    why is that? What do you like about it most?
  19. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    Sold ;)
    Interesting perspective.
    ChrisH likes this.
  20. JayTerrance

    JayTerrance Active Member


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