Do Shorter Drum Samples=More "metal"?
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Old 20-06-2018, 01:20 AM   #1
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Do Shorter Drum Samples=More "metal"?

Lately when it comes to samples (drums barring cymbals) it seems more and more frequently the bands with "good engineering" use triggers, and even more frequently with triggered drums (toontrack) it seems like the clearer sound is the shortest essence of the drum but with heavy EQ, compression, and maybe even a reverb. People say machine samples are pretty decent but when I try using something like an Alesis SR-16 sample that's unaltered it sounds sluggish, limp, and generally misapplicated.

What do you guys think?

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Old 20-06-2018, 01:28 AM   #2
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Re: Do Shorter Drum Samples=More "metal"?

I don't know if the length of the sample has anything to do with it, but layering sure does.
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Old 20-06-2018, 01:37 AM   #3
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Re: Do Shorter Drum Samples=More "metal"?

I've seen channels like John Page Contraband show that too but if I had a nickel for every time I just heard some non-tonal click for a kick drum, I'd say that's like a standard of the sound. Wouldn't choosing two different kicks and layering them over cause some kind of cancellation? Or do you mean like the hardstyle method of treating kicks, synthesizing one kick then clipping the attack, effecting it drastically and laying it over the original?

Like here's an example of "good" fake drums I've heard:

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Sounds more authentic than some cyber groups like WCWBT, that sound like just a pogo tweaked fruity club kick.

Last edited by jimmusician; 20-06-2018 at 02:09 AM..
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Old 20-06-2018, 02:26 AM   #4
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Re: Do Shorter Drum Samples=More "metal"?

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Originally Posted by jimmusician View Post
Wouldn't choosing two different kicks and layering them over cause some kind of cancellation
Waves will display constructive interference if they're in phase, meaning two of the same thing played at the same time will be twice as loud. Most drum samples are positively phased, so adding two together makes the the bulk of the hit louder, then adds in the different surrounding frequencies. It means you can add bass thump or high end crack to a hit that doesn't have any.

I think what you're talking about is a need to truncate individual hits because they're being played so quickly. The tight, gated stubby sound means they don't turn into a smear when they're played at 200 bpm.

I've personally always hated the overproccessed sound of 'clicky' metal drums, especially overly tight kicks meant to cut through the wall of detuned guitars, going all the way back to Vulgar Display of Power and Soul of a New Machine. It's just not my thing. On balance, there's plenty of metal bands that still have big, Sabbath-y sounding drums (Neurosis, Sleep, WitTR, classic Black Metal, etc) that sound huge without being overly processed.

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Old 20-06-2018, 02:27 AM   #5
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Re: Do Shorter Drum Samples=More "metal"?

This is tight as fuck. I can't help you much but I am interested in finding this out too.

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Old 20-06-2018, 02:30 AM   #6
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Re: Do Shorter Drum Samples=More "metal"?

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Could you record with something like this, but instead of using the triggers use midi?

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Old 20-06-2018, 02:34 AM   #7
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Re: Do Shorter Drum Samples=More "metal"?

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Here this guy shows what he uses and the sound is pretty similar

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Old 20-06-2018, 02:40 AM   #8
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Re: Do Shorter Drum Samples=More "metal"?

I know I spammed the shit out of this but I just remembered, Triggers need to be run through an amp, thats part of the sound. Some type of bass amp or something IDK

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Old 20-06-2018, 03:21 AM   #9
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Re: Do Shorter Drum Samples=More "metal"?

Honestly to me, if you're looking for a metal sound, you're going to want tight drums. That doesn't mean no reverb, etc. That means a quick ADSR. I believe the fuller you get the "hit" you're trying to trigger, the easier it can be to ASDR it. Obviously the shorter the sample, Release can do next to nothing(even there though you can audio mangle/stretch audio files etc).

I think the sample itself can be very much clean. It could actually be a non-synth'd drum hit, acoustic and be effected/processed/audio stretch(edited) to such a degree the original isn't the same anymore.

But again, I feel like a metal sound will have some aspect of acoustic to it. And if it were me and I were able to play drums and use triggers, I'd attempt to use the triggers to live layer my drum kit because I'd want to be able to play it live. Or at least have that feel.

Much like the dude in the above video.

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Old 20-06-2018, 06:48 AM   #10
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Re: Do Shorter Drum Samples=More "metal"?

Check the attack of your samples if the kit sounds sluggish.
Shorten them all to virtually nothing if you want typical drum feel.
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Old 20-06-2018, 09:50 AM   #11
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Re: Do Shorter Drum Samples=More "metal"?

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Originally Posted by Artificer View Post
Waves will display constructive interference if they're in phase, meaning two of the same thing played at the same time will be twice as loud. Most drum samples are positively phased, so adding two together makes the the bulk of the hit louder, then adds in the different surrounding frequencies. It means you can add bass thump or high end crack to a hit that doesn't have any.

I think what you're talking about is a need to truncate individual hits because they're being played so quickly. The tight, gated stubby sound means they don't turn into a smear when they're played at 200 bpm.

I've personally always hated the overproccessed sound of 'clicky' metal drums, especially overly tight kicks meant to cut through the wall of detuned guitars, going all the way back to Vulgar Display of Power and Soul of a New Machine. It's just not my thing. On balance, there's plenty of metal bands that still have big, Sabbath-y sounding drums (Neurosis, Sleep, WitTR, classic Black Metal, etc) that sound huge without being overly processed.
Ah, so layering won't cause that? I kind of thought that shortening kicks (snares is so in the opposite direction at the moment) or trying to replicate what EZdrummer samples are was important because generally, it's easier to have a short sample that you maximize with bass/treble that punches for that tiny bit vs dealing with full length kicks because in one of my projects I ended up going with an Alesis kick and while it was ok for the phone test, the car test revealed that because of the kick being EQ'd so strongly that the rest of the track shit itself. Full length kicks, especially if you aren't careful can turn out like club tracks. This is the track I'm talking about [Only registered and activated users can see links. Click here to register]
. I just really want to learn how to de-techno-fy all these club samples to sound as tight as what I normally hear.

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Could you record with something like this, but instead of using the triggers use midi?
The triggers were the midi, he was sending the midi to his drum module/to his DAW. I like programing my drums honestly but I'm nothing compared to Samus. Ya I think that software can pull it off but not as easily as your DAW.
In this video he shows how he routes to EZ DRUMMER [Only registered and activated users can see links. Click here to register]
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Honestly to me, if you're looking for a metal sound, you're going to want tight drums. That doesn't mean no reverb, etc. That means a quick ADSR. I believe the fuller you get the "hit" you're trying to trigger, the easier it can be to ASDR it. Obviously the shorter the sample, Release can do next to nothing(even there though you can audio mangle/stretch audio files etc).

I think the sample itself can be very much clean. It could actually be a non-synth'd drum hit, acoustic and be effected/processed/audio stretch(edited) to such a degree the original isn't the same anymore.

But again, I feel like a metal sound will have some aspect of acoustic to it. And if it were me and I were able to play drums and use triggers, I'd attempt to use the triggers to live layer my drum kit because I'd want to be able to play it live. Or at least have that feel.

Much like the dude in the above video.
You think ADSR matters? I mean if you just set a general decay envelope with no A S OR R you have generally every drum other than the 808 (which people have treated as bass ). I was thinking if I loaded a sample into FL, used the cut out and trim knobs and then loaded the kick with mids and compression I could get a heavy sound but I wanted to survey people who might know better than me.
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Old 20-06-2018, 10:20 AM   #12
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Re: Do Shorter Drum Samples=More "metal"?

Thanks for the video, I enjoy his sense of humor.

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Old 20-06-2018, 03:07 PM   #13
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Re: Do Shorter Drum Samples=More "metal"?

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Originally Posted by jimmusician View Post
Ah, so layering won't cause that? I kind of thought that shortening kicks (snares is so in the opposite direction at the moment) or trying to replicate what EZdrummer samples are was important because generally, it's easier to have a short sample that you maximize with bass/treble that punches for that tiny bit vs dealing with full length kicks because in one of my projects I ended up going with an Alesis kick and while it was ok for the phone test, the car test revealed that because of the kick being EQ'd so strongly that the rest of the track shit itself. Full length kicks, especially if you aren't careful can turn out like club tracks. This is the track I'm talking about [Only registered and activated users can see links. Click here to register]
. I just really want to learn how to de-techno-fy all these club samples to sound as tight as what I normally hear.
Layering can cause destructive cancellation. Audio waves are complex things, and even well done samples can cancel poorly sometimes. Most of the time it's not a big deal and you can stack and stack the drum hits, but you have to let your ears be the guide. If you add a layer and it sounds thin and weak, flip the phase of one of the samples and see if it helps.

Cancellation in live recorded drums is a much bigger issue because you're dealing with a collection of sources (the individual drums) which you can't treat like a point source, in a live room where everything reflects. You get this mess of early reflections and 10-20ms delays that can ruin takes if you're not careful. I think that's mostly where the idea of phase issues and cancellation with drums come from. It's much less an issue with quality sampled drums because those things have been cleaned up and accounted for.

As to your actual track, it sounds like a drum machine, but I think a lot of that has to do with programming and mixing. Even the best drummers don't hit their kit with consistency - you need to draw in velocities for everything. Drummers usually lead with a heavy hit and then back off, and consistent rhythms should have slight variations in level. You should also push things off the grid very slightly, because machines play perfectly in time, people do not. That will likely go a long way to selling the realness of the drums. I'd also bring the drums down in the mix considerably and add some reverb to sit them in the mix. The dry and up front sound makes them sound like a drum machine, which I think is adding to the 'club' feel. Past that, I'd take up Vault's suggestion (as he's very, very good at programmed drums) and work with layering real samples.

That's if you want to sound like polished, professional modern-metal mixes. While I'd make some changes, I rather like what you've got going on here. Sort of like Godflesh covering Darkthrone. It's unique and interesting.

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Old 20-06-2018, 08:59 PM   #14
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Re: Do Shorter Drum Samples=More "metal"?

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Originally Posted by Artificer View Post
Layering can cause destructive cancellation. Audio waves are complex things, and even well done samples can cancel poorly sometimes. Most of the time it's not a big deal and you can stack and stack the drum hits, but you have to let your ears be the guide. If you add a layer and it sounds thin and weak, flip the phase of one of the samples and see if it helps.

Cancellation in live recorded drums is a much bigger issue because you're dealing with a collection of sources (the individual drums) which you can't treat like a point source, in a live room where everything reflects. You get this mess of early reflections and 10-20ms delays that can ruin takes if you're not careful. I think that's mostly where the idea of phase issues and cancellation with drums come from. It's much less an issue with quality sampled drums because those things have been cleaned up and accounted for.

As to your actual track, it sounds like a drum machine, but I think a lot of that has to do with programming and mixing. Even the best drummers don't hit their kit with consistency - you need to draw in velocities for everything. Drummers usually lead with a heavy hit and then back off, and consistent rhythms should have slight variations in level. You should also push things off the grid very slightly, because machines play perfectly in time, people do not. That will likely go a long way to selling the realness of the drums. I'd also bring the drums down in the mix considerably and add some reverb to sit them in the mix. The dry and up front sound makes them sound like a drum machine, which I think is adding to the 'club' feel. Past that, I'd take up Vault's suggestion (as he's very, very good at programmed drums) and work with layering real samples.

That's if you want to sound like polished, professional modern-metal mixes. While I'd make some changes, I rather like what you've got going on here. Sort of like Godflesh covering Darkthrone. It's unique and interesting.
When I mentioned "club" I just meant it had that characteristic sound of the kick blowing the stock car speakers out like it was a Deadmau5 track, I'm not really concerned with velocities as for now at my rate of production I doubt it would pay off in actual productivity. I kind of prefer the xplodosound machine performance just because ....sometimes "real" performances sound really weak. Silly as it sounds I just feel like a lot of the "shitty" samples I used when I first started out "w0000 l00k guzzzzzz m00sux p00rdU$h3r!" Back when I really didn't know any better and didn't dare use compression or any actual processing almost sounded better but I learned after a while in that case that it gets hard to wrap a sample around a good track when it's got all sorts of stereo-mixed reverberated bullshit that gets in the way of the actual sound projecting. Ya the drums volume are kinda jacked in the mix. The other side of the kick kicking too hard is I didn't fade any of the end off so a sample that's not designed for the tempo it's triggering in will ring incorrectly. Something I never got around to fixing.

Likewise if I take a track by say Anaal Nathrakh I don't hear a ton of velocity variations but if I notice a song changes into an industrial sort of style all of a sudden I notice the snare and kick getting longer to accommodate the slower atmosphere and then shifts back to the really short punch.

Idk I just want to learn lately how to manipulate generic samples into fitting multiple genres. I think it's an easy crutch to say "not using the right samples" sometimes.
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Old 20-06-2018, 09:35 PM   #15
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Re: Do Shorter Drum Samples=More "metal"?

Yeah, I think there's something to being able to tailor samples to do what you want, and careful use of EQ, envelopes and reverb can go a long way. But at the same time, people have been trying to emulate drums for ages with very limited success. Trying to stack sine waves to make a bass drum is very much akin to converting one style or type of sample to another - it's all forms of wave manipulation. It ends up that the human brain is ridiculously good at spotting the imposter, and you have a sort of audio Uncanny Valley where you might not be able to put your finger on it, but it doesn't sound quite right.

All that is to say that there's ways to get where you want, but it's usually easier just to start closer to the end point. You can realistically emulate a train passing with nothing but sine waves, but it's a hell of a lot easier to stand next to a passing train with a mic. That's not a crutch, that's working smarter.

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Old 21-06-2018, 12:33 AM   #16
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Re: Do Shorter Drum Samples=More "metal"?

Have you tried using a combo of gating and transient designers?
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Old 21-06-2018, 02:40 AM   #17
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Re: Do Shorter Drum Samples=More "metal"?

What jumps out at me in the WIP you shared is how bassy the bass drum is. If it were me, I'd hipass that to get more of the click and less of the mud and then let your bass guitar carry the bottom with some possible ducking house style to get the kick rhythm in there. I'm not sure how modern metal is produced, but that's what my house producer ears are telling me. Also, snares are super duper hard to get right. The mathematics alone are astounding: [Only registered and activated users can see links. Click here to register]


But when I actually listen to snares, it's rare that I find one I like. So if I found one, I wouldn't question one less worry in my life.

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Old 21-06-2018, 04:08 PM   #18
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Re: Do Shorter Drum Samples=More "metal"?

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What jumps out at me in the WIP you shared is how bassy the bass drum is. If it were me, I'd hipass that to get more of the click and less of the mud and then let your bass guitar carry the bottom with some possible ducking house style to get the kick rhythm in there. I'm not sure how modern metal is produced, but that's what my house producer ears are telling me. Also, snares are super duper hard to get right. The mathematics alone are astounding: [Only registered and activated users can see links. Click here to register]


But when I actually listen to snares, it's rare that I find one I like. So if I found one, I wouldn't question one less worry in my life.
Not a bad idea. Ya, when I'm trying to mix for tv speakers (with the built in protection) or phone there's a ton that suddenly surprises you. Maybe I'll lug up my bass amp into my room, try monitoring to that instead. Could be a good Guage for how much bass is enough.

Snares I think are easier to play with the samples, it sounds like there's a lot going on in playing style and often I think a synthetic snare sounds closer to a tom. I usually try to chop the tail off and replace it with reverbs or convolution impulses.
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Old 21-06-2018, 07:42 PM   #19
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Re: Do Shorter Drum Samples=More "metal"?

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sure. If when I talk about asdr, it doesn't necessarily mean you have to play with all of the parameters. As to an actual metal drum process, I've never made anything metal. I just imagine them having a primarily acoustic kit, tight because of the speed and number of hits. But I'm also a big fan of layering things.

As to audio canceling out, sure they do. I've always found the low end is where it becomes the most destructive. Eq, filtering, pitching, etc can be very useful. After all you're attempting to make a new sound from multiple sources.

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jimmusician (22-06-2018)
Old 22-06-2018, 12:01 PM   #20
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Re: Do Shorter Drum Samples=More "metal"?

Protip: Take everything I say with a fistful of salt, a basket of limes and a bottle of tequila.



It really depends on the metal genre - samples would be used mostly in the more extreme genres. One trick is to sample the kit that is being played, and then replace the kick/snare hits of the actual performance with samples with clearly pronounced attacks. You can get away with a single drum hit sample, but you will need multiple snare hits so you can get dynamics into your snare rolls and stop them from sounding sterile. This gets around the attacks of these drums getting mushy when they are played really fast, as it is hard to tell at what state the drumhead is in when the hit lands. This produces a consistent sound with the overhead mics and the room sound in general, and these mics having some of the original drums reflection in them reduces the machinegun-effect.



In the most extreme metal genres, the machinegun effect might be desirable however - and there I would recommend a different kick/snare that has had a pitch envelope applied to it to emphasize the attack. If you are layering samples instead of flat-out replacing them for a more natural sound, you need to make sure that your drum hits are in-phase. This can be quite tricky, and may well mean going through the entire performance with a scope and inverting samples where necessary, or possibly even fiddling with an all-pass filter. This is probably not anything new if you have done actual recording before, but it will take a lot of time the first few rounds around if you're not familiar with it.



Kick drums will need to be boosted at around 4k-8k range to emphasize the click for fast runs, and the bottom end needs to be tightly controlled to avoid mudding up the entire mix. The fundamental of the snares should be boosted, but you will probably need to also apply strategic cuts fairly down in the frequency spectrum to make sure it does not sound boxy. Kit should probably be left fairly dry of reverb, with the exception of the snare and possibly the toms.

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