So I noticed there isn't a sticky for using samples and replacing drums 'n all that good stuff. Well, I've decided to make a little FAQ for it and hopefully it will help some people out Brett should be making it into a sticky and putting in the FAQ links soon. Where to begin...well I will just take it one at a time and base it off of questions that I have seen in the past. Here goes: Samples are pretty much exactly what you would expect from the name - a sample of something. In this case, we're talking about drum samples specifically. You can find a ton of snare/kick/tom multi-samples both free and for sale all over the internet and this forum as well, it's like the New York Stock Exchange of drum samples around here. If you can get multi-samples you are doing good, but one-hits can work too for some things like toms and kicks. Multi-sample just means there are several samples of the same drum where each sample is a different hit and usually multiple sets different velocities as well. This is good because every time a drummer hits a drum he doesn't hit it exactly the same so this will help maintain some realism. Lets say you are recording a band, and the guitars sound amazing, the vocals came out perfect and that bass is kicking you in the chest, but the drums just fucking suck. So despite the ungodly sound of everything else, it doesn't matter because the drums are bringing down the house. Using samples the right way can save the day. Samples are recorded, usually, in optimum conditions and have no bleed in them. The person making the samples can take all the time in the world to find good mic positions, etc., unlike your situation where the band wanted to hurry because they could only afford 4 hours. Because there is no bleed with samples you can get a much cleaner sound. Replacing drums also offers a great deal of consistency which is really expected in today's modern productions, especially so with metal. So that you can really hear what is possible with drum samples and replacement, I would suggest that you check out the audio demos on Steven Slate's website for some great examples of before and after. You are going to need a few things. One, a DAW/host that uses VST/RTAS(PT)/AU(Mac) plug-ins (Cubase, Nuendo, PTHD/PTLE, SAWStudio, Vegas, Acid, Sonar, Logic and Digital Performer are all hosts). Two, a set of samples for what you want to replace. So if you want to replace a kick drum, you need some kick samples - duh. Three, you will need a sound replacement plug-in. There are a few out there, I'll break them down real quick: Slate Digital TRIGGER - Cost: $99 (EX, slimmed down sample library) or $249 (Platinum, SSD shells + Deluxe kicks and snares) --Pros: Best results I have personally had with any replacer. Has MIDI i/o for both EX and Platinum versions (really handy!), multiple sample layers, handles dynamics really well, easy to use Instrument Builder application to make your own sample sets --Cons: Personally haven't found any yet Drumagog 5 - Cost: $269 (Pro version) or $359 (Platinum version) Pros: Can load your drum VSTi (such as Superior 2.0, Addictive Drums, BFD, etc.) inside of Drumagog Cons: (Only used previous versions) SPL DrumXchanger - Cost: ~$200US (price is 149 Euros) Pros: Has SPL's Transient Designer built-in and a ducking feature Cons: (Never used it) apTrigga 2 - Cost: $60 (for full version) --Pros: Also does the job, has some cool features and takes very little resources, i.e. if your computer sucks then you will be better off with this one --Cons: Doesn't have a bunch of bells and whistles like other replacers, virtually impossible to maintain wide range of dynamics with a single instance (ghost notes, med and hard hits) What you will do in any host is apply the replacement plug-in on the track that you wish to replace the sound on. Once you've added it you can open the plug-in and see the GUI. This is where you will load your samples in the replacer. After your samples are loaded, you need to set your blending and threshold to what you are trying to accomplish. If you only want to hear the sample, you are going to turn the dry knob to 0 (zero) so the original track cannot be heard. If you want to hear half original sound and half sample, turn the dry knob to 50 and so on. apTrigga's blending knobs can be a little confusing since they both go from 0-200, but 100 = 50 inside apTrigga. Most other replacers have a single 0-100% knob for blending. So once you've set the blend amount, now you need to set your threshold so that you are only hearing a sample being triggered when the drum is being hit and not mis-triggering from the bleed in the mic. If you have a lot of bleed from other drums in the original track I would suggest editing it out of of the mic track or use a gate before the replacer. I also usually use an EQ before the replacer to boost fundamental frequencies of the drum I am replacing as well as cutting out things that only complicate the triggering process, making it a lot easier to work with. Once you have a clean drum track coming in, look at the replacer's input level meter and you will see the peaks of the drum hits. Slide the threshold down to just below the lowest drum peak and work from there to catch all the hits using the other features of the replacer you are using. Most replacers have several modes depending on what you want to get out of them. For example in apTrigga you have Stack mode where it will play all the loaded samples together every time it triggers, TRIGGER has "articulations" like Hard, Full, Crack, etc. which are modes with specifically restricted (or full-fledged in Full) dynamics ranges with the sample set you load up. Again, it all depends on what you are trying to do. Do you want the kick to have the same sample every time no matter what? Do you want to keep the dynamics of your snare track or make it hard hits only? Basically, yes. But you can do something to help that. Typically with kicks it isn't a big deal, unless the music is a little more dynamic/organic than say, tech-death or something where the same samples played repeatedly is the sound you want to have. For snares and toms, however, it's always best to have several samples. If you only have one, there is a trick that I have used, as well as others, to create more samples from the one you have. Take the sample you have and pitch it down just a few 10ths of a cent, just a few. Then load that one in. Take the original sample again and pitch it up just a few 10ths of a cent. Then load that one in. You now have three samples from the one you originally had. If you pitch it up or down too much, though, it won't come out quite right. The slight pitched up/down sample will effectively recreate the little human element of hitting it harder or softer every few hits or so. Having different timbres, if you will. With a good replacement plug-in, decent set of samples and a lot of patience. The more dynamic the music/drummer, the harder it is going to be to replace and sound close enough to the real thing. If the drummer uses ghost notes on the snare a lot, you may have to go duplicate your snare track and have it setup to replace only ghost notes. Another way is to convert the track to MIDI and program in the hits it is missing, or maybe it's catching them but not translating the velocity correctly which is an easy fix with MIDI. It all depends on how intricate the track is and how well it was recorded and played really. Some replacers like TRIGGER and Drumagog have a feature where you can set up certain samples to play for certain velocities, this is a situation where MIDI comes in handy. apTrigga has a similar feature where you assign which samples are triggered dependent on how high above the threshold the input goes called Dynamic, but honestly it's not nearly as usable as with TRIGGER and Drumagog. Really the best advice I can give, though, is to always just try to get the very best natural recording and performance of the drums (at least the snare), trying not to rely on replacement except as the last resort. You try to come to a compromise by making samples of his own drumset yourself. Just mic up a single piece at a time and have him hit it at different velocities and far apart. Usually it's best to do a direct mic like usual, optionally you can do overhead tracks and even a room mic if you want to have the most options. I would say about 8 hits per velocity or so (8 hits at full blast, 8 hits just a little lighter, 8 hits a little lighter, and so on) should be plenty, another situation where it depends on what you will need. Make sure to allow enough time between each hit so that the drums fully ring out to silence before hitting it again. After you have a good set of hits, chop each hit up and then render/bounce each one out separately. You can opt to process them ahead of time with compression, EQ, etc. or leave them raw and process them after you have them loaded and replacing your drums in the mix. Either way, now you have multi-samples of his own drums and there is no bleed. Triggers are a little device that you attach to the drum(s). They have a piezo element in them that picks up each hit from the drummer. Put them on the drums and plug them directly into a mic pre, or you can use a DI if you want. What you will be recording from the triggers are ticks or pops. The main reason to use them is that they are much better to use for triggering samples than triggering from an audio track of the mic'ed drum since the transients are way more isolated. Trigger tracks, the pops, are also useful for drum editing since the transients are easier to see. With a trigger track you are typically going to want to replace 100% since they don't sound too great, but some engineers have been known to blend in the sound of the trigger itself tucked in to add some crack to the top end of the drum. Experiment, you may get some great sounds doing it. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------- So that is all I have for now. I hope I covered everything and if not, well I can always edit. Feel free to ask questions and make suggestions, etc. Discuss!