Roland TD9 and Recording

Discussion in 'Synths / Samplers & VSTi' started by oshmunnies, Feb 16, 2013.

  1. oshmunnies

    oshmunnies Active Member

    Aug 24, 2012
    North Dakota
    Ok so I'd like to think that I can bust a gut or two on a drum kit, but I am a total newb at this recording stuff.

    Like the title says, I have a Roland TD9 electronic drum kit, and I'd like to use its pre-programmed drum kits for recording. Right now I'm using Garageband (I know...please don't hit the back button), and have an M-Audio USB MIDI cable. I'm completely unsatisfied with Garageband's drum kits, and the TD-9 has great preloaded ones (not to mention virtually limitless drum kit customization capabilities) that I would love to use in a recording.

    Setting Garageband's crappy default drum kits aside for a second, I was under the impression that MIDI is capable of sending the velocity (that is, the physical force I use when hitting the trigger pads) signals from the TD-9 to the recording software. Am I wrong? The velocity is what makes the drum track sound human, no?

    I don't own any sort of audio interfaces...when I record guitar in GB I simply use a 1/4" to 1/8" cable and go direct into my Mac.

    I'm definitely willing to spend some $$ on better software after I start learning a little more, but if I can record TD9 audio with Garageband, I'd like to do so. My question is this: is there a solution to my problem in the form of an audio interface device? If so, any recommendations for moderately-priced devices?

    Thanks y'all
  2. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Well-Known Member

    Apr 19, 2006
    Home Page:
    Garageband would be happy to record from an external audio interface rather than the built-in audio card in your Mac, so I would look at getting a unit such as the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2. This has a couple of inputs that would accept the line outputs of your Roland TD9 and record the actual stereo audio that the electronic drumkit produces.

    When you have done the drum tracks, you unplug the TD9 and plug in your guitar to track that while listening to the drums on headphones. This should work fine if you are the only performer, as I can't quite see even an experienced gut-buster such as yourself playing both instruments at the same time.

    If you are thinking of moving up from Garageband, make sure you check out the low-cost Reaper software with its 30-day free trial.
  3. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Well-Known Member

    Nov 25, 2012
    Akron/Cleveland, OH
    Home Page:
    Well, it's certainly one of the nuances, yes. But not the only one... (and yes... I am a drummer, by the way...)

    For example...on a real drum kit, the way the snares will rattle when the kick is hit, or the way the drums will give different tones - or overtones - depending not only on how hard they are hit but also in regard to where on the head they are hit. These are just a few for the sake of example.

    As far as the "human" nuances to drumming, there are other things as well, if you are going for more of a "real" drum sound...

    The way a drummer will drag the stick on the snare either before or after a strike...those "ghost" beats or "phantom" sticking, which are those barely perceptible taps that can offer up groove and vibe.
    If the Roland isn't able to grab all of those things, then things will be missing. It's textures like these, along with other small things, that add up.

    Much of what separates the sound of D-drums from real drums is the built-in isolatory nature of digital drums. There is no "bleed" between mics. Now this can be a good thig, or it can be a bad thing too. It depends on what you are after tone and style-wise.

    Remember... part of a real drum kit's sound - and it's a big part, by the way - is the sound of the entire kit; and things like using overhead mics, which captures the way the whole kits sounds... along with the room in which the kit is being recorded ... and digital drums aren't going to get you this.

    That being said, there's no doubt that D drums can be much more convenient to record. If you live in an apartment, or have pissy neighbors and decide to track at night, they can be great. But, real drums have things that D drums never will. I expect you already know this. ;)

    You need to use what is easiest for you in your situation; while you may be after a real drum sound, you're gonna have to deal with the trade-off of sound versus convenience...

    Certainly, D drums are a far better alternative at 3 a.m. than to mic up a real kit of Yamaha's. ;)

    As far as your midi question, yes...Midi can send velocity, but you have to make sure that your Roland's controller is set for a certain velocity articulation - while I don't own D Drums, I would have to assume that there is most certainly a parameter setting in the Roland controller which allows you to set the velocity and/or sensitivity scheme. You want to make sure that this value is set to reflect what you are playing, dynamically.

  4. Kapt.Krunch

    Kapt.Krunch Well-Known Member

    Nov 21, 2005
    Sounds to me what you may want to do is to "record a MIDI performance" into sequencing software, and then have that control the TD9 kit's sounds upon playback, to then record into the computer audio inputs.

    If you record MIDI data with a good MIDI sequencing program, you can do all kinds of data-tweaking, and your TD9 should respond accordingly. If your TD9 is capable of sending/responding to velocity messages (I'd bet it is), then your playback should sound just like your input.

    You could even leave the drums "virtual" until it's time to record and mix them, if you had a way to monitor them. That way, you aren't stuck with only what you have recorded. Maybe you'd like a different snare than what you first chose? Just choose that patch change in the sequencing software. Record it all down when you find the MIDI sounds to work with the audio recording...instead of trying to futz with the audio to fit around the MIDI.

    Maybe you'd like to try combining two, or more, snares in your TD9? Can only play one at a time? No problem. With MIDI, you can always copy the track and map another one.

    Once you bang in all the drums as a MIDI recording, you simply make audio the timing master and the MIDI will follow, so it should just start your drum module and play the sounds (as loud, long, effected, velocity multi-sampled (if module is capable) that you programmed it to.

    If you flub a note or two...just open up an editor and drag it where you want, or enter in other performance data.

    Don't want to use the TD9's effects (reverbs, etc.) but would rather use a VST effect? Only want to 'verb out the snare and cymbals, but not the kick? Wanna compress/EQ the kick, but leave the rest alone? Mute what you don't want, and record them to separate audio tracks, where you can then apply effects to each track, individually.

    I haven't used Garage Band, but I doubt it's the best app for that. You'd be better off with a decent DAW with good MIDI editing capabilities, plus audio recording.

    And, when it comes time to actually record the TD9 (or any other audio), yeah...a good interface is better. Never tried Reaper. I've heard it's a decent program, but I don't know about how extensive and intuitive its MIDI is. (I'm a longtime Cakewalk/Sonar user, and can run through its MIDI stuff asleep...with my eyes closed...and one hand tied behind my back).

    Good luck,

  5. pcrecord

    pcrecord Quality recording seeker ! Well-Known Member

    Feb 21, 2013
    Quebec, Canada
    Home Page:
    Recording in midi first is a good idea. It let's you review the performance, quantise it, do copy and paste to remove some mistakes etc..

    Once in midi, in any software you choose, you can make the TD-9 play back the notes and record them. Be aware that if you are a loud player, chances are there's not much nuances in the midi data recorded and so human feelling goes to crap.. Ajust the triggers sensibilty so only the hardest hits gets to record the maximum velocity, it'll make a lot of differences. You can add more and manipulate midi data in the sofware anyway.

    Once you have the midi file, keep it safe, in the long run, you might want to buy a virtual instrument and make that instrument play you midi later on. I too have a TD-9 and I run it to Addictive Drums.. Very natural ! Compared to the internal sounds of the TD-9

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