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When Programming drums, what velocity do you use??
Old 12th September 2011
  #1
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Nerine's Avatar
 

When Programming drums, what velocity do you use??

I should add that I am using Superior Drummer 2.0.
I also have the Metal Foundry Expansion coming tomorrow.

The reason I ask is:

I have been keeping my kick and snare velocities at 127 or thereabouts, to add realism etc, but mostly 127 and cymbals at 100 as I feel the samples have more variation on the hits.

Anyway, I programmed a track today to use for another project and kept the kick at 100 for more subtlety.

When I went to work and imported the files, I seemed to have a much nicer sounding kick drum.
The caveat being, I think I used a different kick drum kit piece as I used a preset

Anyway, just wondered if there is any mileage in this or should I keep my velocities higher for kick and snare.

It seems the 127 velocities are almost TOO hard.

Failing that, it was the kit piece that the preset used that sounded better??
Mixer eq's and comps were off in both cases and there are only like 4 kicks on the stock Avatar kit. I think the preset had the 2nd kick down on the list. When imported today, the kick sounded loads better.

Does anyone have any input to share?

Do I really have to go through the rigmarole of going through the programmed midi of my entire solo album dropping all the velocities of the kicks and snares by 27?!? Or just use the other kit piece??

To be fair, it's not a masive job if I have to. I'll use Cubase's velocity subtract function and use it on the necessary notes.

Thanks.

Thoughts??
Old 13th September 2011
  #2
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nerine View Post
I have been keeping my kick and snare velocities at 127 or thereabouts, to add realism etc,
Anyway, I programmed a track today to use for another project and kept the kick at 100 for more subtlety.
When I went to work and imported the files, I seemed to have a much nicer sounding kick drum.
Yes, actually programming the main hits at 127 is the opposite to realism.
Real drummers reserve their loudest (hardest) hits for the biggest drum fill in the song, the climax, the end of the outro or the end of a solo.
Studio drummers will play between 80% to 90% of their full volume on a loud rock song, always keeping something in reserve.
This is the way the best drum sample libraries are constructed.
Most hits should be between perhaps 110 to 120 (max) with 120 to 127 saved for the major climactic moments of the arrangement.
For mainstream pop and quieter forms you might want to stay exclusively between 100 and 120.
You are right to internally balance your velocities too.
I have bass drum as the loudest (120?) snare maybe 115, and hi-hats and cymbals at 100 or lower. This is how a good studio drummer balances themselves.
In the end the drums sound bigger and fatter.
If you need to, lower your guitars, keyboards etc... to hear the drums better, or up the gain on your Superior mixer channels.
Old 13th September 2011
  #3
Since every drum sample set has its own particular set of dynamics, I can't even imagine why we're talking about numbers. 120 on one sample kit can sound entirely different than 120 mapped to a different sample. And that can vary even among kits in the same set -- for instance, I own BFD 1.5 and if you set up the dynamics for a drum part for one kit and then remap that sequence without tinkering the dynamics, it can sound entirely different. That is to say, sending a given sequence to one kit can produce a snare that's too loud and a hi-hat that's too quiet -- but the same exact sequence mapped to one of the other kits in the same BFD 1.5 package can sound entirely different, maybe a snare that's now too quiet and a 'hat that's now too loud.
Old 13th September 2011
  #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by theblue1 View Post
Since every drum sample set has its own particular set of dynamics, I can't even imagine why we're talking about numbers. 120 on one sample kit can sound entirely different than 120 mapped to a different sample. And that can vary even among kits in the same set -- for instance, I own BFD 1.5 and if you set up the dynamics for a drum part for one kit and then remap that sequence without tinkering the dynamics, it can sound entirely different. That is to say, sending a given sequence to one kit can produce a snare that's too loud and a hi-hat that's too quiet -- but the same exact sequence mapped to one of the other kits in the same BFD 1.5 package can sound entirely different, maybe a snare that's now too quiet and a 'hat that's now too loud.
So... I don't get it. What's the number? Is it 100? I bet it's 100.
Old 13th September 2011
  #5
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The best number is 75. I've spent a lot of time researching this topic and after endless experimentation and sleepless nights, that is now the only velocity that I will use for every song, no matter which drums I am using.

No, seriously speaking, there is no set number, it varies every single time and changes every single song. I bang away on my keyboard and I go with whatever sounds good, no matter what the velocity is.
Old 13th September 2011
  #6
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In Superior the tone does change quite a bit on the very last few hard velocities so even bringing the max down to 125 will make a difference.
Sometimes if I want to "compress" the dynamic range in my part, I'll bump up the input velocity in Logic by +10 (you might not have to but my drumkat seems to input velocities a little soft for a rock song) then go to the mapping page in Sup 2 and use the velocity control to lower the max velocity output for each drum. For instance the Kick might sound best with a max of 124 but the snare might sound best with a 110 max. Just select the kit piece and move the fader until you find the fattest tone with the amount of attack you want.

I still might have to tweak a stray velocity in the track but this is much easier than having to tweak them all.
Old 13th September 2011
  #7
Quote:
Originally Posted by theblue1 View Post
Since every drum sample set has its own particular set of dynamics, I can't even imagine why we're talking about numbers.
OK, but since all midi has 127 as it's maximum velocity, some numbers are valid to talk about.
Of course you can adjust to taste, but the big point I was making is that you should generally not program your acoustic drum software with most notes at 127 (maximum velocity), because no drummer plays a song at absolute maximum velocity...... if for no other reason than it gives you nowhere to go.
Adjust to taste, but most drum software sounds better slightly below (or sometimes quite a bit below) maximum midi velocity.
Old 13th September 2011
  #8
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I generally go low on velocity and bump the gain if more volume is needed, but it's due to my preference for chiller/subtler drums. Velocities above 115 often just smash and take a turn toward the ugly side, IMHO.
Old 13th September 2011
  #9
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I have been doing some experimenting and some listening.

To my ear the drums sound much more natural backed off a bit. The kick develops a bit more low end too. I was worried about getting enough attack on the kit pieces, but with a slight hint of compression, they sound awesome! Far better than running the velocities flat out.
I am running the kick, snare and toms on a limit of 115 and the cymbals still at 100.
Obviously the velocities vary; sometimes dropping to 112, 110 etc, but for pure tone they sound better to me at 115 or at least around that area.
I reworked all the drum tracks for my solo album this morning. Just subtracting 12 from all of the shelled drums. It has worked great. They sound much better now. More natural, more variation and tonal differences, etc.
Every time I use Superior Drummer, I am actually just totally blown away by how well it does just about everything.
Anyway, just thought I'd share if anyone is in the same boat...
Give it a try!!
Old 13th September 2011
  #10
Real drummers hit every snare slightly differently. So the best velocity is a quieter one for quiet hits, louder ones for louder hits.

Or to put it another way, work out where your loudest hits sound best, and back off the rest to balance with those. If your drums are identical velocities for every hit, your kit will not sound realistic. Program in some dynamics.

Caveat; some styles need semi-mechanical drums (eg modern rock/pop) but you should still have some variation!

PS Listen to Chrisso....that's a man who knows how to hit them drums!
Old 13th September 2011
  #11
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Leechlife's Avatar
 

Hi

I don't wanna be insulting but I think the question is pretty stupid. I grew up as a drummer and there is not a velocity you program drums at.
The dynamics and variations make the difference and add a lot to the overall grove.

Consider most mixes get compressed in the end to death, the only thing that is left is the felt dynamics you get by having many different velocites resulting in different sounds (which then compress are nearly on the same volume, but not the same texture ).

And to argue drums sound particular good a certain midi velocities thats pure nonsense. You might be right for a particular taste and a particular drum library, but consider the amount of libs out there and non will sound the same at vel = 100.

So it very much depends on what you want in the end, but fixing velocities for particular sound is never a good idea. It's best to utilise the whole dynamics range in vels across all drum kit components, of course depending on the application.

cheers
Old 13th September 2011
  #12
Gear Nut
 

i like my drums sound really soft. most of the time i use acoustic drum samples like the abbey road stuff and then i don't go above 95, on the 'loud' parts. that's because it's a lot easier for me to get that fat snare sound and a nice cymbal tone which i love so much.
but i don't look that much on numbers, it has to fit the mood of the song and should sound good with subtle variations in velocity and timing, that's all. it should sound dynamic.

listen to some radiohead stuff, phil selway plays his drum kit most of the time very soft and their drum sound is one of the best i hear in modern production. of course programming your drums is not the same as a live played kit by a professional, but you learn a lot just by listen... listen... listen.
Old 13th September 2011
  #13
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From a drummer for 35+ years, who's also programmed many a sequence for drum parts in the days when there was no decent recording equipment available and we needed to get ideas down to a 4 track. To get samples/midi sounds to sound like a real drummer, you'll spend a good amount of time trying to get a drummer's technique to come out in the mix and it still won't sound right. Unless you just want that Dr. Rhythm sound.

To make it sound realistic is a bit more than just velocities to be honest. Some theorize that "every hit should sound the same", when we all know in reality, it doesn't. That's why some of the drum tracks today, especially in metal tunes, make me laugh. They might as well be sequencing because none of the actual sounds generated by Mr. Drummer while recording are making into the song. It's all triggered or replaced for the convenience of the engineer/producer in a lot of cases.

Anyway, the best advice I can give you is to watch and listen to how a decent drummer plays and keep that in mind while your writing your parts in. If you want real drummer sounds, then get a good drummer who has decent equipment to record your tune for you. Leechlife is right in that, the velocities and variables are numerous, even with the most consistent of drummers. Lots of people like to preach about "dynamics, dynamics, dynamics", and then turn right around and take all the dymanics right out of the drum tracks.
Old 13th September 2011
  #14
Gear Nut
 

found a nice articel in sound on sound magazine which could be a little help for everyone who's programming his own drum sounds.

Beat This! | Programming Realistic Drum Parts

there's a second part which you should find easily.
Old 13th September 2011
  #15
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Don't get me wrong, I always humanise everything as much as possible. I am in the middle of putting an album together so I wanted my drums to be consistent throughout. Didn't want some to sound flat and others really in your face. I'll deal with that sort of thing on the mixing.
Most of the parts I use are all played in anyway. I use hat grooves that have been played by the session drummers for each midi pack for example.
Obviously a lot of what I do is all custom grooves and things to fit my songs, and I will always program in really soft ghost notes on the snares etc etc. I don't literally just grid it out. 4/4 16th notes all the way through. That is bound to sound rubbish.

Most fills that i use are adaptations of the midi grooves so they always sound realistic anyway. Not to mention every groove I program from scratch is randomly quantised by as much as 11 or 12 ticks.

It wasn't the realism of my tracks that I was worried about anyway.

Just the tone of my drums.

That's now fixed thanks to using the softer/more real hits

I firmly believe that drums can be hit TOO hard as I do play myself a little bit. But not well enough to play tightly to a click, so Superior is the next best thing.

I was merely putting it out there, that having the snares and kick on maximum isn't the best way to go with these samples IMO. Just like real life, they are hit TOO hard almost. Great for effect, but no so much a groove.

Peace.
Old 13th September 2011
  #16
Quote:
Originally Posted by Leechlife View Post
I don't wanna be insulting but I think the question is pretty stupid.

And to argue drums sound particular good a certain midi velocities thats pure nonsense.
Sorry, it's not nonsense at all, it's an absolute reality.
Who said you sacrifice dynamics? No one!
We are talking about the artificial world of multi-sampled drum software here, not real drumming.
Just because of the way drum sample products are presented, and the way v0-drums and midi keyboards work, far too many people program drums with everything hitting velocities 125-127. When doing that, the drums sound very hard and unattractive.
We're just discussing the realities of using an unreal product.
Old 13th September 2011
  #17
Quote:
Originally Posted by mhs2xs View Post

Anyway, the best advice I can give you is to watch and listen to how a decent drummer plays and keep that in mind while your writing your parts in.
Most of the drum sample products come with (dynamic) real drummer played midi.
The feel and dynamics are already there.
It's just a good idea to experiment with the global velocity settings, as many fake drum tracks end up banging away at 127, which sounds stiff and harsh.
That's all we are really talking about.
Old 13th September 2011
  #18
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no absolutes, just whatever sounds best...
Old 13th September 2011
  #19
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Leechlife's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by chrisso View Post
Sorry, it's not nonsense at all, it's an absolute reality.
Who said you sacrifice dynamics? No one!
We are talking about the artificial world of multi-sampled drum software here, not real drumming.
Just because of the way drum sample products are presented, and the way v0-drums and midi keyboards work, far too many people program drums with everything hitting velocities 125-127. When doing that, the drums sound very hard and unattractive.
We're just discussing the realities of using an unreal product.
Exactly, I said sticking to one level is bad. sticking only 125-127 falls under that.
No sample lib sounds the same. and you need that high levels here and then as well.
Most people mistake vel with volume.

So again, drums don't sound good at particular levels, they do have a different sound at different levels, and you will find a drummer will most likely utilise all levels in an average songs withs ups and downs.

You mean will sit somewhere in the 80- 100 ok.

So if the only realisation here is that drums don't fit in an song very we'll if 95% of ur hit's are 125-127, then wow that is a no brainer.
Old 14th September 2011
  #20
Maybe, but I hear a lot of user audio demos with the drums slamming and flatlining at 127.
V-drums tend to spit out very high velocities, and much of the included midi in drum software products is centered around the highest few velocities too.

So, it may be obvious to you, but as someone with a drum software product, who also deals with newbie users, there is a confusion between velocity and volume, and users do assume that the very loudest velocities are what drum libraries are designed to work at. When you suggest they try backing off the overall velocities a little, it is a revelation to many.
That's all I've been saying.
Old 14th September 2011
  #21
restpause
Guest
Why not hire a real drummer and do programming for synth drums? And why not record MIDI live (MIDI pads, etc) for varied velocity for some of your composite drums?
Old 14th September 2011
  #22
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One thing to remember of course, is that you can always change the velocities afterwards and see if you like it better. If not, you can always go back to what you started with.
Old 14th September 2011
  #23
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ryst's Avatar
 

The best way to program drums is by ear, not by numbers (just my opinion). I have gotten really good at "playing" my M Audio Trigger Finger live.

So what I usually do is play the whole song "live", then go back and correct any mistakes. But not to the grid. I stay in slip mode and and make my timing changes there. As far as velocity goes, I just raise or lower notes based on how it feels and sounds to me. Not based on any velocity number.

I've yet to have a real drummer assume or think the drums for my music are programmed. They all ask the same question. Who's that bad ass drummer? heh
Old 14th September 2011
  #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chrisso View Post
Most of the drum sample products come with (dynamic) real drummer played midi.
The feel and dynamics are already there.
It's just a good idea to experiment with the global velocity settings, as many fake drum tracks end up banging away at 127, which sounds stiff and harsh.
That's all we are really talking about.
I understand, believe me. As I said, I've been there more than once. Even harder than drums is to sequence Bass guitar, to me anyway. I spent over $4k on an eMU e6400 in '97 (with the Will Lee bass library) and programmed for months for our originals because we couldn't get a player that could hang with us. It sounded acceptable when the other three of us were playing, but by itself, I was never happy with it.

I know the technology has made huge strides and, as you said, max'ing out velocites is an issue and is not the right approach. What a lot of people don't realize is that there's envelopes involved in some of the samples/waveforms that change the sound as the velocity changes, so it's not just a "volume" deal.

I realize that the samples are played/triggered via midi now, but there's still so many other variables that a true drum sample library would be excessively huge. Not to mention, the triggering devices still don't have enough zones on them to properly emulate real drums and cymbals. I'm sure they'll keep getting better, but it's little things like that is why they lack. In my opinion.

Anyway, guys like you who have responded here are giving good advice. All those that say velocity doesn't matter are just plain wrong.
Old 14th September 2011
  #25
This is a great thread! I've been dealing with this issue as well and there has been some great info here.

I use Addictive Drums and everything is usually set really high, even the output gains on the FX. I usually just disable everything and work it like a real drum performance.

I will say, I did a midi track and then had a real drummer come lay down a live performance via e-drums and every hit of his was maxed at 127. He's a good player, and it was a good Roland V kit.

Keeping this in mind could save time. Can't wait to readjust my levels!

I have a ?

So aside from the tedium of adjusting every (or almost) hit to give varying velocities for more realism, how do you guys handle this?
Old 14th September 2011
  #26
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rogerdodger's Avatar
 

I, too, use XLN Addictive Drums.

Hits sound best around 90-100 in this particular software. Approaching 115+ the snares sound like **** and the kick drum makes other parts of the kit distort.

Sounds good overall though.

Fastlanestoner: I hand edit every note. Literally. Takes forever, but everyone thinks the drums are real.
Old 14th September 2011
  #27
Quote:
Originally Posted by fastlanestoner View Post
I did a midi track and then had a real drummer come lay down a live performance via e-drums and every hit of his was maxed at 127. He's a good player, and it was a good Roland V kit.
Yes, this is exactly what i was talking about.
Playing v-drums realistically is a special technique, one I find very hard myself.
In order to achieve enough sensitivity to trigger light ghost notes and detail in the hi-hats and ride cymbal, you often end up triggering too many max level hits.
Drummers need to play more lightly and more dynamically when playing v-drums I think.
Old 14th September 2011
  #28
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Quote:
I hand edit every note. Literally. Takes forever, but everyone thinks the drums are real.
I kind of do this - I'm an avid keyboard drummer - been doing it for a LONG time.....

I practice a few parts & then I'll play the song the whole way through on the keyboard including fills - I might go through & patch things up a bit sometimes & maybe doctor fills / transitions.

I find the overall dynamics & flow of the song are so much better this way.

(I use SD normally)
Old 14th September 2011
  #29
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rogerdodger's Avatar
 

You should be able to set the minimum threshold and then the linearity of the velocity response on a good v-drum kit.
Old 15th September 2011
  #30
Yes, the issue is really more about occasional v-drum users, than the enthusiastic v-drummers who've tweaked their settings and practised getting the best out of a v-drum set up.
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