Thursday, February 21, 2013

Drum Smaples: Do You Really Have to Break the Bank

Do you really need to spend that much money on drum samples? My answer, is NO. With the technology in plug-ins these days your strongest weapon is to know your plug-ins and know how to work them. Having this knowledge can make any average drum sample sound just as good as a sample that you will get from a drum sample library such as a Ocean Way's drum library which can run you anywhere from $500 to $2000. 

Now, if you have the money than by all means go for it if it will make your music making experience better. But, if you will have to spend a month eating Ramen noddles out of a styrofoam cup then maybe you should learn how to make those drum samples that come with fruity loops, reason, etc.  sound like something awesome without the expensive cost, and trust me it can be done.

The first thing you have to remember as a recording engineer is that you will probably listen to music in a different way then other people. As recording engineers, were more likely going to pick out certain parts of a song and say those vocals need a little more compression or those drums could be miked a little different. But this is not the way an average person would listen to music. So in my opinion the average person listening to music is not going to have any ideal how much money you spent on a drum sample. This of course, is unless there is a noticeable bad quality track. You have to remember when you are recording and mixing music and you are doing it as a job, you are trying to make it perfect. But the non-engineer is listening to the music for pleasure not to pick it apart to find every last imperfection, that is if they were even able to hear an imperfection that an engineer could hear. 

 Here are some things that will help you get those just alright drum samples sounding just as good as a real drum kit.

  • Know your plug-ins, know how to use them and know how to use them the right way.

  • Mix the drums by themselves, but also do some final touches to your plug-ins and volume levels after you have put the drums tracks back into the mix, just like you would with real drums. One thing people forget is no mater how great you can get a certain track to sound good by it's self, listeners still only listen to the whole mix not just one instrument.

  • Be creative and think outside of the box. For example: I was reading an article in EQ magazine and it gave me some great advice I never thought of before. When you record real drums each microphone gets a little bit of bleed from other sound sources than what you are trying to pick up. The article talks about using drum samples, and when the drum samples are played back through the monitors they would set up a couple more mics in the control room, and they would use those tracks to add the illusion that mic bleed is present in the mix. And that is what it is all about, making the listener think he or she is listening to a real drummers drum kit.

  • I like to use ghost notes and layered samples to help bring a realistic drum kit feel.The illusion of some imperfection is the key to a realistic sound. 

There are many ways to get great drum sounds without spending an arm and a leg. Like I said before if you have the money go for it, but if you want to save some money, it is extremely possible to make average drum samples sound great.

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