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Old 07-22-2011, 09:24 PM
swalker133 swalker133 is offline
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Question Is MIDI Suffieient for recording Electronic Drum Kits? if Not, what should be used?

Hello, my name is Sean,

I'm considering buying an electronic kit to record using MIDI in Pro Tools 9 on my MacBook. I'm not here to talk about what's a good electronic kit because that's off topic...

If you're using MIDI to record drums, isn't it going to sound too generic? My understanding of MIDI is, (and correct me if I'm wrong here) theres a sound for every note on the controller, and depending on how hard you play the instrument, your midi sequencer makes the noise go up or down in volume. When you're playing drums, (and with many other instruments) they sound different when you play them harder or softer, they don't just make the exact sound, but at a softer volume... So how do you record drums using MIDI (or something else) and make them sound realistic?

In other words: (This might not make any sense at first, just keep reading) How do you capture the realistic attributes that electronic drum kits have to offer (like the way you hit the drum, if you do a real high pitched and loud rim shot, or a less loud one, or a rim click, ) into your computer to edit without recording the audio, but still maintaining the ease of MIDI editing?

With any instrument, there's more to it than how loud a sound is made. An instruments nature/architecture add up to millions of sound possibilites. Example: I could lightly roll on the edge of a drum head, and then move the roll and get louder as I move closer to the center of the head and get a totally different sound than I had when I started at the edge of the head. If all MIDI does is take a single sound and play it at different volumes, that won't sound at all realistic!

Conclusion: There are tons of ways to play an instrument. Is there any drum virtual instrument software/track editor software that captures all of these little nuances in a Digital Interface that allows you to sit down and customize the individual sounds of every note to get a realistic sounding drum track that will sound like the real thing?


Thanks, and let me know if anything isn't clear! I would greatly appreciate any feedback or knowledge!!!!!!

-Sean
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Old 07-22-2011, 11:41 PM
nst7 nst7 is offline
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Default Re: Is MIDI Suffieient for recording Electronic Drum Kits? if Not, what should be use

Hopefully I've understood what you're asking.

Your best option is to buy a good software drum sampler like Superior Drummer or BFD2, and use your electronic kit to program the midi for those in real time (as you play).

These drum programs (and a few others) are very advanced and contain a lot of velocity levels (loud to soft) in them. In other words, the creators of the program recorded many variations of how the drum sounds when hit different ways.

As a comparison, the drum kits in Xpand 2, that comes with Protools, generally have about 3 velocity layers - soft, medium, and loud. If you hit a note on the keyboard to trigger them, you will hear the exact same "soft" sound at different volumes within a certain range, then when you get above a certain point, you can hear it switch to the "medium" sample, then again with "loud". It's very obvious and takes away from the realism.

With good drum software, they recorded many more of these levels, so when you go from soft to loud on a keyboard or drum pad, it's much more gradual and realistic.

If I remember correctly, some of these programs even have a left and right hit on the snare. If you're playing a drum pad, there's no way to differentiate that, but you can go back afterwards and edit those midi notes.

A few of the higher priced Roland kits have positional sensing on the snare and cymbals. I'm not sure exactly how it works, but I believe it triggers different samples depending on where on the head you hit.

For some of these things like the subtle change in a drum roll as you move around the head, it may be something that can be made more realistic after the fact, where perhaps you manipulate the audio to do a subtle pitch shift, etc.
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Old 07-25-2011, 10:17 AM
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albee1952 albee1952 is offline
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Default Re: Is MIDI Suffieient for recording Electronic Drum Kits? if Not, what should be use

Yes, midi works great for drums. I use a Roland TD-10 kit with SD2 and the results are excellent(according to nearly every drummer to ever use my setup). You can also experiment with hybrid recording. I often use this setup, augmented with a real hihat(and mic), a real snare(and mic) or even all real cymbals(with 2-3 mics). The options are vast and the results are up to the drummer's and engineer's skills(and taste). Since SD2(and many other drum VI's) are all real recorded drum sounds, having them played by a real drummer gives you.....a real drum recording. And it happens on a modest budget where you(the studio owner) don't need to buy $10K worth of mics and preamps, or build a beautiful acoustic space(that part is done for you). As for sounding "generic", that again, is up to the engineer. Once I get done with my drum tracks, they don't sound exactly like the stock drums because I use my individual taste(and plugins) to treat the sound, just as I would with the sounds of an acoustic kit. Every drum gets a bit of EQ, a touch of reverb/ambience, my own blend of compression....you get the idea. The same drummer, with the same kit, if recorded in 2 different studios, will sound different in each recording
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Old 08-02-2011, 04:48 AM
accession accession is offline
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Default Re: Is MIDI Suffieient for recording Electronic Drum Kits? if Not, what should be use

Quote:
Originally Posted by swalker133 View Post
My understanding of MIDI is...

...your midi sequencer makes the noise go up or down in volume.
And that's where you're understanding is lacking. :)

With a velocity-value-per-hit between 0-127, that's 128 different samples that could be triggered, or variations of filters, or envelopes, or any number of sound modulations.

Then consider that the high-end Roland modules offer positional sensing, which is translated as MIDI presumably as a continuous controller value, which opens up a whole world of authenticity.
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Old 08-02-2011, 07:51 AM
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albee1952 albee1952 is offline
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Default Re: Is MIDI Suffieient for recording Electronic Drum Kits? if Not, what should be use

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Originally Posted by accession View Post
And that's where you're understanding is lacking. :)

With a velocity-value-per-hit between 0-127, that's 128 different samples that could be triggered, or variations of filters, or envelopes, or any number of sound modulations.

Then consider that the high-end Roland modules offer positional sensing, which is translated as MIDI presumably as a continuous controller value, which opens up a whole world of authenticity.
And, authenticity (get that guy a quarter for using a 5 syllable word on the DUC) requires solid and consistent technique(just as playing a real kit requires for good results).
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Old 08-12-2011, 08:41 AM
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DonaldM DonaldM is offline
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Default Re: Is MIDI Suffieient for recording Electronic Drum Kits? if Not, what should be use

Quote:
Originally Posted by accession View Post
And that's where you're understanding is lacking. :)

With a velocity-value-per-hit between 0-127, that's 128 different samples that could be triggered, or variations of filters, or envelopes, or any number of sound modulations.

Then consider that the high-end Roland modules offer positional sensing, which is translated as MIDI presumably as a continuous controller value, which opens up a whole world of authenticity.
WHich raises an interesting question. How many different sample hits are there for velocity changes for some of the more popular e-drum kits out there? Or, rather, where do you find that info in the specs? Does anyone know what it might be for Strike, for example? Just curious.

I wasn't aware that Xpand only used 3 velocity zones. Never thought about actually.
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