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Audio Loops or MIDI loops?
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357mag
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#1
30th July 2008
Old 30th July 2008
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Audio Loops or MIDI loops?

I've found a few places that sell drum audio loops and MIDI drum loops. If I decide in the future to add more loops to my hard drive, I don't know which to get.

I've heard MIDI loops offer the most editing capability. More so than with audio loops. But I guess you can still slice and dice and edit audio loops?

Sound wise I don't know which gives you a better punchier sound. And places like Beta Monkey and Drums on Demand only sell audio loops. Where does a guy go to get MIDI drum loops that are good for hard rock/metal?

What do you guys use and why?
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30th July 2008
Old 30th July 2008
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You do know that MIDI is just playback command data, not audible sound data, right?
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30th July 2008
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MIDI doesn't actually transmit audio - rather, those loops contain sets of information which are sent to compatible devices such as your computer's audio interface, synthesizers, software plugins etc.

Drum loops in 'audio' format are always going to derive from the sampled state you found them in - even if you cut up your audio files and rearrange them, the stuff you come up with in the end is still made from the original sound you started with. You can come up with some seriously cool stuff by chopping and slicing up audio, but the tweakability (and soundsculpting) is restricted. Basically, the sound you hear is what you have to work with.

With MIDI loops 'triggering' a drum machine (be it hardware or software) on the other hand, you are only limited by the extent of your current sound library. Each transmitted note can be altered, velocities can be tampered with, and so on. But you will of course need some sort of drum 'machine', for example the Toontrack or FXpansion ones.

Also, some quick Googling revealed these:

MIDI Tutorials

What is the difference between audio and MIDI?

Good luck!
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30th July 2008
Old 30th July 2008
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I was aware that MIDI justs contains a set of instructions for reproducing a sound. But the question remains: Is a MIDI drum file going to sound better than an audio drum file? Will a MIDI drum file sound wimpy and K-Martish?

And I have not turned up too many places that sell MIDI drum loops for hard rock/metal. Seems to me even if MIDI only contains a set of instructions on how to reproduce a sound, the instructions themselves are going to contain stuff in them that will influence the final sound.

Or can you take a MIDI drum file, and through the use of compression and EQ make it sound equivalent or better than and audio file?
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30th July 2008
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Well, again, MIDI files won't sound at all. The receiving end of a MIDI file can, however.

So whether the end result will sound better than fixed audio loops or not, depends on what you feed your MIDI to, and to some extent on your mixing/production capabilities. In the case of MIDI loops, you use these unaltered or customized/tweaked (by yourself) to produce actual audio. Feed the right MIDI information into Superior 2 or BFD 2 (for example), and out comes audio, the way you programmed it to sound, based on the samples included in Superior 2 or BFD2. If you've programmed it carefully, with lots of velocities and such, the end result can be quite stunning.

This resulting audio can then in turn be processed with EQ, compression, reverbs, delays and whatnot. There is no use adding compression or EQ to a MIDI file - if they don't contain any audio, why would you want to EQ or compress them?
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30th July 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 357mag View Post
...Will a MIDI drum file sound wimpy and K-Martish?...
I've been doing my sound shopping at K-Mart for years... have been really happy and never had a wimpy beat.
However they don't carry too much Hard Rock and Metal sounds your best bet might be Ross or TJ Max
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30th July 2008
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I have both Superior Drummer 2.0 plus Addictive Drums also. I didn't mean add EQ to the actual MIDI file itself. I meant in the course of working with the drum track itself.

If MIDI is so great, I wonder why places like Drums on Demand or Beta Monkey do not offer MIDI loops. From what I've read they only have .wav files.
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30th July 2008
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It still seems you are confused between audio and midi.
The same midi can trigger Addictive, EZdrummer, some Roland 909 samples or even a piano. So you are confusing us all if you keep talking about midi and sound.
If you buy audio drum loops you are effectively stuck with the sound, although you can change it a bit with fx.
If you buy midi loops, you can trigger ANY sounds you want, as I just detailed.
Audio loops are great if you like that particular sound.
Midi loops are the ultimate in terms of sound flexibility and flexibility of editing.
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30th July 2008
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So you're saying that if I got some MIDI drum files, those drum files can also be used to trigger a piano sound or a saxophone. Even though they called MIDI drum files?

I really don't have use for any sounds other than drum sounds, least not at the moment.

MIDI is used to trigger sound, so you pretty much have to use the words MIDI and sound in the same sentence.
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It's actually just midi.
People say midi 'drum' file so we all know what instrument they are aimed at.
Sound doesn't come into it.
Midi is just one way of programming notes on a keyboard.
In most drum programs a bass drum is assigned to a certain note, the snare another note. You could play the midfile using any instrument, but because it's been programmed with drums in mind, you'll get a lot of strict time with only a few notes playing - not very nice on piano or saxophone.
There is nothing that dictates it has to be drum data, or those drum sounds have to be certain ones.
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Saying sound doesn't come into it is like saying a steering wheel doesn't factor into driving a car.

Sure a MIDI file only contains instructions or data or bytes, but isn't that data used to make a sound?

Can a MIDI drum file be used to make a saxophone sound? Or can it be used only to make a drum sound? I thought these instructions contained data that was used to make a certain instrument sound.
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30th July 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 357mag View Post
Sure a MIDI file only contains instructions or data or bytes, but isn't that data used to make a sound?

Can a MIDI drum file be used to make a saxophone sound? Or can it be used only to make a drum sound? I thought these instructions contained data that was used to make a certain instrument sound.
Your drum software is triggered by notes, for example the kick might be at C1, the snare at D1, one of the cymbals at D2, and so forth - it depends on the software as each one uses different note mappings.

You could think of MIDI files as simply a collection of notes being sent to your software. That's basically all there is to it. Just like with sheet music, the notes (MIDI data) doesn't create sound by themselves, but if you put them in the hands of someone who knows what they're doing (a good plugin), you can probably get some great results. For more info, please refer to the links I posted above.

MIDI data is used to make sound, exactly the way you make sound when playing on your padKontrol (which I noticed you had, according to your recent post over @ the Toontrack forum). The padKontrol is pretty much just a MIDI keyboard, but especially designed for beat production. You can still trigger a saxophone plugin with it, and I use mine all the time for soft synths as well as for making beats.

Those MIDI loops are basically just a collection of keyboard notes that are sent to trigger the unit/computer/software receiving them. MIDI drum loops will be optimized for a certain drum host (and its particular note mapping), but if you swith the drum plugin out for a piano or saxophone plugin, it will play the piano or sax instead - as both the piano and sax are played by notes too.
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357mag.

instead of dealing with fixed loops you might want to check into
a new offering called RealBand sometime from pg music that people are
finding very interesting.
(PG Music Inc. - Band-in-a-Box, PowerTracks Pro Audio, and More...)
your a reaper user if i remember.
you could use realband for fast production of bed traks , then bring the traks into
reaper if you wished for final mixing.
i dont have time to go into all of it, cos theres lots to detail.
just read the threads on it at pg, includeing "look ma no midi",
as well as a long thread where theres info on advantages versus the loop paradigm.
theres also varioous demos.
basically the idea is to have a real band on tap for song creation.
some have called it a breakthrough in music creation.
but judge for yourself. its very flexible.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 357mag View Post
Saying sound doesn't come into it is like saying a steering wheel doesn't factor into driving a car.

Sure a MIDI file only contains instructions or data or bytes, but isn't that data used to make a sound?

Can a MIDI drum file be used to make a saxophone sound? Or can it be used only to make a drum sound? I thought these instructions contained data that was used to make a certain instrument sound.
MIDI is a set of instructions that says, "Play this note, at this time, for this long." Sound doesn't come into it. It doesn't influence the final sound at all. Think of it like a music box. The little comb with the teeth is your drum plugin, while the little wheel is your MIDI file. You can take the wheel out and put it in another box with a different sounding comb, but the note on and note off instructions remain the same.
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30th July 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 357mag View Post
Can a MIDI drum file be used to make a saxophone sound? Or can it be used only to make a drum sound?
You decide.
Nothing is decided by the midi file. You make the decision by sending that midi data to a sound source.
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I think a good quality kit of multisamples (audio files) triggered by a MIDI recording of a real drummer could sound pretty good, but probably even that wouldn't sound totally realistic. I think if you want real convincing acoustic drum sounds, you need a real drummer. If you're not limited to the acoustic type sounds, though, then it could be a lot of fun to experiment with all of the above, including electronic drum sets.
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30th July 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 357mag View Post
Saying sound doesn't come into it is like saying a steering wheel doesn't factor into driving a car.

Sure a MIDI file only contains instructions or data or bytes, but isn't that data used to make a sound?

Can a MIDI drum file be used to make a saxophone sound? Or can it be used only to make a drum sound? I thought these instructions contained data that was used to make a certain instrument sound.
Haven't read the whole thread. Assume someone's already covered this but here's my quick take:


A MIDI file's instructions -- which are sort of like sheet music for robots -- consist mostly of note and playing dynamics information, not actual sound information.

They must be sent to a MIDI instrument, either hardware or virtualized. It's that MIDI instrument which will allow you to map a given MIDI sequence of notes to a set of drum sounds -- or whatever type of instrument you have created a MIDI part for.

Also, since the info in a MIDI files is basically note information, you can take a MIDI part written for saxophone, say, and send it to a trumpet -- or grand piano or guitar -- sound.

One last thing -- melodic instruments use the regular note scale, of course. For convenience, we tend to map different drum sounds to the scale so that a drum kit can be played by a keyboard controller. So, for instance the C3 key on a keyboard controller might be mapped to a kick, the D3 key to a sidestick, the E3 key to a snare... etc. So instead of one melodic instrument changing pitch up the scale, you have the different pieces of a drum or percussion kit mapped out up the keybaord.
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30th July 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 357mag View Post
Where does a guy go to get MIDI drum loops that are good for hard rock/metal?
Drumcore
Vamtech Drumtrax
Groove Monkey
Beatboy
Twiddly Bits/Keyfax
EZ Drummer, Addictive Drums, BFD come with midi loops.
There are others.

Midi is instructions, not sound. A midi instruction might look like "play the F# two octaves below middle C at such and such a time for 1/8 note duration with such and such force (velocity) on channel 10". If your midi-capable instrument happens to have a hihat sample (audio) mapped to that F# and it's receiving on channel 10, that's what you will hear. If it has a piano sample mapped there, you will hear a piano note, etc.

I'm generalizing to make it easy to comprehend, but midi instruments (software or hardware) make sounds because they have samples loaded into them, but they only make sounds when they receive instructions to do so. Midi data are those instructions.

The dedicated drum software instruments (EZ Drummer, BFD, etc) and dedicated hardware modules have drum samples mapped to each note.
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31st July 2008
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Let's say I played a one bar groove on a pad controller and let's say I hit the kick drum on beats 1 and 3 and I hit the snare on beats 2 and 4. After doing that I look at my screen and somewhere in there I would see this grid which to me looks like a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet with all those cells.

I would see 2 rectangles that represent the kick drum on beats 1 and 3 and I would also see two rectangles that represent the snare on beats 2 and 4. Yes?

And I would see a graphic of a piano keyboard and the kick drum might be lined up or mapped to one of the C keys and the snare might be mapped to one of the D keys. Yes?

For awhile I've been trying to understand why there is a picture of a piano keyboard in there. Must be because the drum notes are mapped to a piano keyboard.
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Yes - in a very general way.
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The impression I got when I looked at Drumcore is that you can't just buy a pack and install it and expect it to work with your drum software. You also have to buy the Drumcore software too.

Why this is I don't know. You should be able to just buy a pack by the drummer that you want and use those files with something like EZ Drummer or something. But I don't think they work that way.

With Groove Monkey I downloaded the samples and installed them, but I think you must have some drum software already installed on your machine in order to hear them. Would have been nice if I could have listened to them right from their site.
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Hmm, haven't we just agreed midi is soundless?
Groove Monkey provides midi.
You must own some sort of sound producing module or software sampler (BFD, Superior 2 to use it.
Groove Monkee - Learning to Use MIDI
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You can think of midi files as a simple text file, saying:

bar 1 beat 1 note 50 on
bar 1 beat 2 note 50 off

etc........

It's just text that tells a sampler what to do. Superior 2 is a sample player instrument for triggering drum sounds. Each note contains a different drum sound or articulation.

Audio loops are a lot less versitile and now that specialized sample players are getting so good, you can pretty much forget about the audio loops.........
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I use MIDI a lot, i mean, i think people underestimate the power of MIDI. And i buy it from Inspiration Vault Midi Loops - Inspiration Vault - Get Inspired, i really recomend it. With midi you never start with a "blank canvas", you can change it as you want till u get the results that satisfies you.
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To the OP, there is a learning curve with midi.....moreso than pre-recorded drum loops. I have been working with midi for about 20 years. During the first 10 years, there were many times when I was pulling my hair out going "What The Fvck Is Going ON...!!!!" It is worth it though, with tons of flexibility built into the midi spec for the tweekhead in all of us
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