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Treating your MIDI drums as if they were real drums.

August 31, 2012

Over these past couple of days, I’ve been recording a cover track just for fun. Since I don’t play drums, I’m having to rely on Studio Drummer and input every single MIDI note into Pro Tools. Getting MIDI drums to sound real can be quite challenging at the best of times, but if your drums are realistic enough that an actual drummer can play them, you’re on the right tracks. I tend to max out the velocity values on the drum shells but take it easier on the cymbals.

Studio Drummer is quite a comprehensive plugin, it has three different kits to choose from, each with an additional snare. You can also EQ, compress, tape saturate, model the transients all in the plugin alone. If your MIDI drum plugin has an option to switch off all the processing, then do so. Add your own signature sound to the great kits that have been recorded for you.

Once you’ve inputted the MIDI data, and your plugin allows you to switch off the processing, solo each of the drums in the plugin and set their output to an available bus, create a new audio track and set its input to the bus which you’re sending the MIDI/instrument track from. Record the individual drums on separate audio tracks. For the overheads and room channels, make sure that the whole kit can be heard rather than just the cymbals, this adds an authenticity to the MIDI drums to make them sound real.

Once you’ve recorded all of the individual tracks with no processing on them, you can delete the instrument track with the drum plugin on to free up DSP. From treating MIDI drums in this way, this gives you the ability to add your own favourite EQs, compressors, tape saturation effects on the drums and make your own signature sound which won’t be as identifiable as just using the presets given to you in the plugin. Try it out when you don’t have a drummer handy!

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