Should I Use Drum Machine Hardware Or Software Drum Kit

Posts 1 - 25 of 39
  1. 1100958
    cosmicinfluence : Fri 3rd Jan 2014 : 5 years ago

    hi folks. basicly i want to get a good drum machine but i dont want to choose hardware over software if it will effect my productivity. my main goal is to help make my tracks more interesting by adding good fills etc.
    i am a learner on my daw, so doing this via my samples is proving hard and not too effective.
    could people please explain to me in laymans terms the do's and dont's of using hardware drum machine to make my work flow better.
    i want to use hardware, but how much better is software is really my question. thanks.

  2. 186161
    Spivkurl : Fri 3rd Jan 2014 : 5 years ago

    Well, drum machines are usually limited to a certain set of sounds, which is a downside when comparing it to using samples. Writing patterns on a drum machine can be limiting due to the quantizing of the recording style, though some allow you to record patterns live, and you can often induce "swing" inside the drum machine. Controlling the machine by MIDI can solve some of the limitation, as you can sort of sequence it like a set of samples, and you're not limited to the patterns that are stored in your machine. The downside of this is you need a MIDI interface. Recording each sound from the drum machine separately to turn it into audio tracks can be time consuming, but is important so you can use different effects on the different drums, ie reverb on the snares, EQing on the kicks, and things like this. If you just record the whole drum machine output to one track, you are limited to the same effects across the whole drum mix. You also have to be careful about the delay of your audio interfaces recording, you may have to slide the recorded audio for it to be exactly in time with the rest of your tracks. I find samples easier to manipulate within a DAW, for example changing the envelope, filtering, pitch, time stretching and all that. To me a combination of hardware and software is the way to go, and if you buy a drum machine, there's nothing to keep you from using samples in the future. Samples are overall easier, as they are dealt with inside your production environment. Hardware can sound very good, but the recorded sound relies on many things, like your audio interface, mixer (if you have one), quality of cables, and things like this. I've found that hardware drum machines are usually better than virtual software drum machines, but samples can be very flexible. I hope I've helped a little.

  3. 1100958
    cosmicinfluence : Fri 3rd Jan 2014 : 5 years ago

    u have helped spiv. nice one bro. i understand the pro's and con's a bit better. think i have already decided to get one but i can see there are limitations. cheers.

  4. 186161
    Spivkurl : Fri 3rd Jan 2014 : 5 years ago

    Glad it was helpful! I loved my Zoom RhythmTrack 123 so much I bought a second one! There are so many samples available now though, that I use them less than I used to. It's also fun to design your own drum sounds with synths (virtual or hardware) and then sample them or MIDI sequence them. This can give you sounds that are your own.

  5. 588276
    StaticNomad : Fri 3rd Jan 2014 : 5 years ago

    Yes, Spivkurl wrote some excellent stuff.

    " Recording each sound from the drum machine separately to turn it into audio tracks can be time consuming".

    I used to have to do that and it was painfully boring and such a waste of time.

    Basically, with drum software such as the Toontrack or BFD products, they have already recorded their acoustic kits and turned them into software so you don't have to do any recording and you can pretty much treat every recorded element individually. You definitely won't always want reverb over the whole kit but just on the snare can be great.

    Drum machines are useful for live use (so you don't have to have a computer) especially as part of an electronic drum set (you know, with the pads that you actually play, often laid out like a regular drum kit). With an electronic kit, the actual drum machine is often called the 'brain' as it contains all the quality samples for the kick, snare, rides etc that the drummer triggers when he plays the kick, snare etc.

    So much more to say about all of this but I would definitely advise going with software for studio use. Probably cheaper and much more flexible than hardware. And you can hear a great deal of use of programmed drum software in my many tracks on this site. Perhaps some of my best programming is in the tracks NightTime Thrones, Into The Out There and Debt Black Hole (all very different styles).

    Good luck and I'm sure there'll be more to say about this.

  6. 186161
    Spivkurl : Fri 3rd Jan 2014 : 5 years ago

    Here's a song where all of the drums and one of the basses came from my Zoom RT-123.

    https://www.looperman.com/tracks/detail/147484

    I think it gives this song sort of an old school vibe.

    StaticNomad has some good points about drum software too though, and I think he knows what he's talking about. It is nice to have your drums fully integrated with your DAW, whether it be samples or drum software.

    Yes drum machines are good for live, and that's kind of why I have two. Back in the day my wife(girlfriend back then) and I were a band and we both wanted a Zoom for live performance.

    One thing I like to do with drum machines as well as circuit bent sound sources (that I often use a secondary drums) is to record a session with them, or a even just a pattern or loop, and then load them into a slicing program (such as Slicex on FL studio). I'm not sure about other slicing programs, but Slicex allows you to route individual slices to separate mixer channels, thus allowing you to effect each sound individually. Sequencing the slices is easy this way too. This can give a unique sound.

  7. 828980
    Burtsbluesboxes : Fri 3rd Jan 2014 : 5 years ago

    I know absoultely nothing about using drum machines, but I have learned one of the pro's of using software is there's is an unlimited number of drum hit sounds available and tons for free. Each sound individualy can be manipulated and you can make your own as well :D

  8. 63133
    RogueAi : Fri 3rd Jan 2014 : 5 years ago

    Get a sampling drum machine (hardware) and all the drum samples out there can be used. I haven't use software drum machines/samplers on any finished track in nearly a year since I got my E-mu ESI-2000 sampler.

  9. 1100958
    cosmicinfluence : Fri 3rd Jan 2014 : 5 years ago

    great feedback folks. thanks. alot to think about.

  10. 588276
    StaticNomad : Fri 3rd Jan 2014 : 5 years ago

    Cosmic:

    another strong consideration is whether you particularly want acoustic or electronic kits. For acoustic, the only options (aside from buying acoustic kit/s and quality microphones and having to record it every single time) I see are: buying the 'brain' of a really good electronic drum kit eg those made by Roland or buying the acoustic drum software such as EZ or Superior Drummer (what I use) or BFD.

    I'm very sure the software is a hell of a lot cheaper and you can keep buying more add-on packs (ie different types of drum kit).

    If you want to go for electronic kits, there are specific bits of electronic software but there is hardware too, as RogueAi says.

    I find I always want/need more and more drums so don't mind having quite a bit of crossover in products and sounds. Just start collecting and keep going.

    But make sure you move away from just straight loops as they are very limiting and very unmusical and awkward when it comes to adding changes to your music.

  11. 1100958
    cosmicinfluence : Fri 3rd Jan 2014 : 5 years ago

    noted bro.had some good advice here. i am going to give it further consideration but some kind of sofware is amust.

  12. 588276
    StaticNomad : Sat 4th Jan 2014 : 5 years ago

    Yes - good software drum sounds are always useful. Always remember that you have to record those hardware drum sounds every time if you're using a computer, which is kind of a waste of time and disk space. The software ones are already in your computer, which makes practical sense if you're working on a computer (as you are).

    Shame you've missed the Black Friday sales. I saw some mad prices for EZ Drummer such as 75% off so seriously cheap!

    I use the Audiodeluxe site, which often has deals and bundled products so check it out. Also watch some introductory videos for different products.

    Ask back here or PM me if you need to know more though it's best to state what you're really looking for eg you do want quality acoustic sounds (metal, reggae, jazz?) or you're not bothered and just want to make fat kick/massive clap techno.

  13. 1100958
    cosmicinfluence : Sat 4th Jan 2014 : 5 years ago

    to be honest bro i want something which has a great veriety rather than have more this or more that as i have not found my sound yet and my taste is very eclectic. could be producing anything this time next year. i will have a look what i want to buy but be sure before i do i will pm u and see what u make of it. thanks graham

  14. 186161
    Spivkurl : Sat 4th Jan 2014 : 5 years ago

    @StaticNomad Regarding this; "Always remember that you have to record those hardware drum sounds every time if you're using a computer, which is kind of a waste of time and disk space."

    You neglected to mention the option of recording the acoustic or hardware kit to samples that can be used in any project. This is an easy way to expand your sound palette.

  15. 588276
    StaticNomad : Sat 4th Jan 2014 : 5 years ago

    Oh sure, Spiv - you can indeed do that (and you do). But then you've turned it into software. So I'm saying you might as well just get the software version of those sounds, recorded professionally and probably with dedicated filters and so on.

    I don't really have any of these software dance drum machines but I understand some of them (maybe by Rob Papen, just a guess) are great.

    I've got loads of dance drum samples (and loops) collected over the years eg full 808 and 606 kits (Cosmic: those are classic dance/club/techno drum machines) though I'm much more into acoustic kits, as you know.

    But I also do some straight electro. You can hear one of those 808 kits (or maybe it's 606, I get confused) on my track Tribal Warfare - a pure electro job. No guitars or banjos in earshot.

    If you're making any groove-based music, it's best to have a real variety of drum sounds. I suppose I bang on about the acoustic kits because the one-shot sample thing for dance drums are so easy to get hold of. But recording and recreating a full acoustic is a far, far bigger undertaking. And you can't just use one-shot samples of an acoustic snare, hat etc unless you want it to sound as though your drummer is hitting each kit part just the same way every time (trust me, you don't).

    It's only with the increased speed and RAM of computers in this last 10 years that we've been able to use that sort of software as it requires loading a lot of data into RAM.

  16. 186161
    Spivkurl : Sat 4th Jan 2014 : 5 years ago

    Very good points SN!

  17. 498019
    Tumbleweed : Sat 4th Jan 2014 : 5 years ago

    I have used both for quite a long time cosmicinfluence....my drum machine audio outs are plugged into my mixer or interface when I want to record the audio and I have a midi chord plugged into my interface when I want to use it as a controller/trigger to input midi for a software drum vsti....I find myself consistently using the drum machine over other options as it is just a lot more intuitive (for me) which ever method I want to use...Easy to play in your own patterns & record as loops...add variations etc...get the panning & pattern variations etc....whether I use it to record its own actual sounds/kits or use it for midi...and dont forget that you can just play the drum machine patters etc via the midi input using them to drive whatever sounds you have in your software via midi....Used an Alesis sr16 for many years & recently bought an sr16 as I find their stuff so easy to use....plus I have little patience & hate the work of drum programming....I keep asking Santa for a drummer to move into the house next door but thats not working.....Good luck & have fun whatever way you go...Ed

  18. 998072
    InverSound : Sat 4th Jan 2014 : 5 years ago

    Just use software and a midi board like launchpad or push. All a drum machine is is a box with buttons dials and pads on it. Get a good midi controller that has good touch sensitivty, aftertouch, knobs, sliders sense pads etc, that is what will give you work flow and human touch to your songs. Working with only samples and mouse in a daw is not good if you want to freally be creative with your percussion.

  19. 588276
    StaticNomad : Sat 4th Jan 2014 : 5 years ago

    Yes, mistermerlin has added good points to what I was trying to say:

    A drum machine is kind of like a DAW + drum software (or collected samples) but with the added control surface ie knobs and buttons and sliders and often some small drum pads. Except the drum machine is unlikely to have as good a visual display ie a big screen where you can zoom in on whatever you want.

    Controllers suit some people and not others. For one reason or another I do all of my MIDI synth and drum stuff pretty much just with the mouse but I'm used to it and know what I'm doing. And I'd say I'm pretty creative but maybe I take longer to do things than if I just played them in by hand. And maybe I'm missing out on some of the fun. But I play various instruments too so get enough of the playing, I guess.

    I think mistermerlin is trying to get at the idea of playing something with your hands (turning faders, hitting drum pads etc) rather shifting things around on-screen.

    We're probably giving you too much info as there isn't a right or wrong way to go! And you're going to change and add (and sometimes even subtract) from your gear and how you work as you grow and learn.

  20. 998072
    InverSound : Sat 4th Jan 2014 : 5 years ago

    physical drum machines are things of the past. they were cool futuristic ,machiness in the 80s 90s that were cutting edge. but they serve no real purpose today in music unless they are really user friendly in real-time and you want them for live performance. but who wants to go on stage and be pressing little buttons and knobs to play drum loops, why just.....play a real set of drums. you would want the drum machine to add inhuman warping of time signatures and machine type 128 note rolls etc/ this vcan all be done with a midi pad ands software. again if you want to go on stage and perform "electronic" inhuman drumming patterns than you need a physical drum machine. better than using a laptop and software and mid controller, you dont watn to be dependent on a laptop for a live show you want an actual anolog box. i woiuldnt put my trust in a laptop for triggering drum patterns on stage, i would want something out of the box, but this is another dilema, if you arent performing live on stage and you want to produce ekectronic music for production and given to djs to spin as tracks, then you dont need a drum machine in any way shape or form. you just dont. you use a midi controller with software, but uit has to be a solid well built controller. a drum machine should technically have a well built architecture, the most iimportant thing in a controller for drums is its ability to handle multiple hard impacts and be able to sense aftertouch. like some people review akai shit badly because they say it's all stiff, but thats because they dont know how to play drums , any drummer will wantr to beat the shit out of the pads when they really get into playing.

  21. 63133
    RogueAi : Sat 4th Jan 2014 : 5 years ago

    Drum machines are not a thing of the past much like analog synths aren't. While I don't use drum machines much on my studio music (I use a hardware sampler), nothing beats x0x style sequencing for live techno and house.

    "If you arent performing live on stage and you want to produce ekectronic music for production and given to djs to spin as tracks, then you dont need a drum machine in any way shape or form. you just dont. you use a midi controller with software"

    No just no. I know of plenty of artists that work in the studio live with hardware. There is nothing saying you can't create your music live in the studio.

  22. 998072
    InverSound : Sat 4th Jan 2014 : 5 years ago

    "No just no. I know of plenty of artists that work in the studio live with hardware. There is nothing saying you can't create your music live in the studio."

    I have a Virus analog synth, I use hardware. Hey you're right, there is no rules to making music. Glad that's sorted.

  23. 63133
    RogueAi : Sat 4th Jan 2014 : 5 years ago

    A Virus isn't analog. It's a digital synth.

  24. 186161
    Spivkurl : Sat 4th Jan 2014 : 5 years ago

    *chuckle*

  25. 1100958
    cosmicinfluence : Sat 4th Jan 2014 : 5 years ago

    hey guys. as expected ther are many opinions and no right answer. anyway i know what i am going to do. for now i am goung to get a boss 880 to aid me in the creative process as i am a complete novice and just for pure fun and playability. i believe the individual drums can be sent to my daw for effect manipulation. but i also want to get some software so that when i start to get into my college course and get a better understanding i can really get into the software. just want to take my time and have a good look into the software as i dont quite fully understand some of the terminology. thanks for all the input guys.

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