How to record electronic drums

You’ve been practicing with your drums for quite some time now : playing it gives you a lot of satisfaction and every day you get more and more passionate about it. You also think it’s time to try to record your sessions in a more professional way and you already have many ideas that you would like to try to develop on the home recording software you have installed on your computer.

The thing, however, seems rather complicated: how do you manage all the components of the battery so that each sound converges clean and balanced on the audio interface of your computer? Well, I want to tell you right away that the thing is absolutely not as difficult as it may seem: depending on whether your kit is electronic or acoustic, in fact, there are different ways to engrave your rhythms on the PC memory.

All you need to do is dedicate a few minutes of your time to reading the next paragraphs and you will see that you will soon have a clear idea of ​​how to record the battery , choosing the solution that best suits your needs. So, are you ready for this full immersion? Keep your sticks ready, because soon you will be able to play and listen to your sound from the computer speakers! All I have to do is wish you good reading and have fun!

How to record electronic drums

Yamaha electronic drum kit

Let’s see immediately how to record electronic drums on the PC: if, in fact, you have a set of this type, things are simplified a lot, as the sound does not need to be switched, given that it is already digital at the outset: a less for your computer’s audio interface.

There are many applicable solutions, but below I will show you the most effective ones: you can record directly using the module integrated in your electronic kit , or make use of a sound card that acts as an intermediary with the computer. In the first case it will be sufficient to have a USB cable and connect one of the two ends to the relative socket of the control unit, while the other will be inserted into the USB socket of the PC.

At the same time, it will be necessary to install the drivers relating to the battery model in your possession, which can be easily found on the manufacturer’s website. I’ll give you an example for the Yamaha DTX402K model : in this case, you need to connect to the manufacturer’s site and click on the driver version compatible with your operating system; then you need to tick the box for accepting the terms of use, next to the item Yes I agree , and press the button below with the name of the YSUSB.zip driver , to start the download.

When the download is complete, extract the zip file obtained and launch the Setup it contains: on the first screen, press the Yes button , then the Next button, the I accept the agreement option and then the Next button again . It is therefore necessary to wait for the installation to complete and, in the last window, click on the Finish button .

In the second case, i.e. the connection via audio interface, you can evaluate whether to make the connection via audio cables or MIDI cables based on the available inputs and outputs . As far as the audio cables are concerned, these are balanced TRS jacks equipped, at the ends, with two cylindrical plugs with a diameter of 6.35 mm : the first will be inserted into the appropriate Output of the control unit, the second into the IN socket of the sound card.

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If, on the other hand, you want to try to make a MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) connection, first check the presence of the relative inputs on the control unit and sound card. This choice is indicated if you subsequently want to modify the sounds to your liking , keeping the signals of the various elements that make up your electronic drum kit separate on the DAW (Digital Audio Workstation), i.e. the software installed on your computer for recording songs.

This protocol has been specifically created to define a basic standard in the communication of electronic instruments in the field of digital music composition : every single signal can be easily converted into a virtual digital instrument by choosing the VSTi available on the music production software of which you avail yourself.

You will therefore have to find a MIDI cable , equipped with two hollow cylinder plugs, inside which there are 5 connectors (DIN) arranged in a semicircle: insert the first plug into the MIDI Out socket on the control unit of your electronic drum kit and the second into the MIDI In of the sound card. Once connected, you’ll be able to operate your favorite music production software. In the following paragraphs I will show you how to record electronic drums on some of the main DAWs .

How to record electronic drums with Audacity

Audacity input selection

Let’s start with one of the best known and most popular free and open source software in the field of audio processing: Audacity .

Thanks to its ease of use and its intuitive interface, you won’t have any particular difficulty understanding how to record electronic drums with Audacity in audio format (in fact, it is not possible to proceed with MIDI, as it is a software for audio editing and not a DAW for music production).

Once the program has started, the first thing to do is select the audio source : on the main screen, top left, you will notice the presence of a microphone-shaped icon , just below the command bar: click on the adjacent menu drop-down list , then locate the item relating to the sound card or electronic drum kit (in the case of a USB connection) you are using and set it by clicking on it.

Now, press the recording level indicator , present centrally at the top (the wording click to start monitoring ): this will allow you to verify that the input volume of the audio source does not exceed the decibels tolerated by the sound card. Ideally, while recording, the volume bars that dynamically show the volume should remain green, otherwise the audio could become distorted or generate annoying noise.

audacity rhythm track creation

You are ready to proceed with the recording: if you wish, you can set up a track linked to the metronome by clicking on the Generate > Rhythm track menu . You will be shown a screen where you can set the click tempo and a whole series of parameters useful for perfecting the synchronization of your execution. Otherwise, if for example you already have a base or a reference metronome, press the Record button directly (the one with the red dot in the center) in the command bar and you can start recording your electronic drum audio track.

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If you want more details on how to use Audacity, in the guide I just linked you can find all the information you need.

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How to record electronic drums with Cubase

cubase add track

Do you use Cubase for your musical productions? No problem. Learning how to record electronic drums with Cubase won’t be absolutely difficult: once you have determined the input channel of the audio source and the type of track to record, the procedure to follow is rather intuitive.

So start this famous software (for this tutorial I’m using the AI ​​version LE Elements 11 ) then from the main screen click on the [+] button , in the left corner of the central box to add a track. In the window that will appear, choose between MIDI or Audio , based on the connections made between your drum kit and the computer. Press the Add a track button and you will immediately see it in the left column.

The Inspector panel will automatically populate on the left , where it is possible to intervene on the audio input and output interfaces by clicking on the relative drop-down menus and, subsequently, on the wording relating to your sound card or electronic drums, again based on the connections made . Note that the outward arrow icon corresponds to output devices, the inward arrow icon to input devices.

If your choice fell on MIDI , you can also choose to quantize your performance, i.e. correct any out-of-time signals based on the set BPM (beats per minute). First of all, therefore, change the tempo from the appropriate box at the bottom right (by default it is set to 120 BPM), acting with a click on the up and down arrows to increase or decrease the speed. Then click on the box showing the icon of a MIDI interface at the bottom left and click on the box next to the Automatic Quantization item to activate this mode.

As you will see, the track is already armed , i.e. record-enabled. Now all you have to do is press the circle -shaped button on the control panel at the bottom to start recording and start playing. The progress indicator will proceed, gradually editing the MIDI notes or audio waveform of your performance. Once finished, press the Stop button [◾️] .

How to record electronic drums with GarageBand

garageband project creation

Now let’s move on to Garageband . This famous music production software, which you can find already integrated in macOS , is truly excellent and professional in many respects and at the same time simple to use: therefore, below I will show you how to record electronic drums with GarageBand .

When starting you must select the type of project compatible with the physical connection made between the electronic drums and the computer: if you have used the TRS jack from the control unit to the sound card, click on the box with the image of a microphone (under the card Audio ), then press on the item My instrument is connected with to edit the audio configuration and select, from a special window, the interface used as input and output device .

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If you have chosen a USB or MIDI connection , click on the image of the keyboard under the Software Instrument section and then define the audio input/output settings by clicking on the item below I hear the sound from : in the window that will appear you will be able to select the input and output devices (in this case it can be electronic drums or sound card).

In all cases, at the end of the configuration, press the Create button and you will be sent back to the GarageBand main screen, already structured based on the choices previously made. Set the metronome from the box above: by default it shows the value 120 BPM (beats per minute) , but by clicking on it, holding down the left button and moving the mouse up or down the pointer, you can increase or decrease it.

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garage band vsti

To start recording, press the red circle at the top of the command bar. When finished, press the Stop button [◾️] . If you have chosen MIDI, you can easily load a different sound from the basic one generated by your electronic drums by clicking on one of the presets present under the Drum Kit or Electronic Drum kit headings , for example, from the left panel.

The chosen virtual instrument will immediately be applied to the track. Furthermore, by right-clicking on the latter and pressing on the last Quantize item , you will be able to adjust the tempo of the notes by choosing one of the options relating to the tempo provided by the submenu that you will see appear. If you want to learn more about how GarageBand works, I suggest you read my dedicated guide.

How to record electronic drums with Ableton

ableton live input audio

And here we are at the famous Ableton . By following a few simple tips that I’m about to give you, you won’t have any trouble learning how to record electronic drums with Ableton .

Once you have started the software in question (for this tutorial I used the Ableton Live 10 version), from the initial screen I advise you to immediately enable the Arrangement view, by clicking on the View menu > Switch Arrangement/Session View , as it is easier to manage for recording ( Session in many cases is more suitable for Live).

In the central area you will notice the presence of some preset tracks for the different MIDI and Audio channels . Therefore, based on the connection choices made previously, determine which type of track to use and locate the box to its right where the Input and Output fields of the audio interfaces are present: by clicking on these, you can define the devices from the drop-down menu of sound input and output (electronic drums or sound card), or click on the Configure item to open the configuration window with all the settings.

ableton how to arm a track

Before recording on Ableton it is necessary to arm the track , i.e. enable it to acquire a sound source by opening the relative channel. To do this, click on the Arm Recording button , characterized by a black dot with a musical note inside, present to the right of each single track. You will also notice that the level meter next to this key will start dynamically showing the input signal.

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At this point you just have to press the record button (the black dot at the top of the command bar) and start the instrumental session. At the end, press the Stop button ◾️: for any further operation on Ableton, including editing tracks or loading virtual instruments , I suggest you read my dedicated guide.

How to record acoustic drums

miked drums

You are a traditional drummer, therefore your interest is focused on how to record acoustic drums on the computer . Compared to the electronic one, it is undoubtedly another “ball of sleeves”, but absolutely don’t give up: you will see that, by following a few essential tricks, you will soon be able to enjoy listening to an excellent level of your instrumental performances.

Surely an investment commensurate with the number of microphones (and stands ) you want to use to record the various elements that make up your drum kit will be necessary . You ‘ll also need to consider purchasing a mixer or multi- channel sound card , which is essential when dealing with multiple input channels.

If you have only one microphone , this must necessarily be omnidirectional , i.e. able to pick up the sound coming from any direction in the same way. It will be placed in an intermediate position between the kick, snare, timpani and toms , in order to capture as much sound as possible. The result, in this case, will be a very live effect , as this type of microphone tends to capture the reverberation and, in general, all the environmental characteristics of the surrounding space.

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If you choose to use two microphones , there are kits specially made for this purpose. In this case it is better to opt for cardioid or directional models : the former should go to cover the bass frequencies of the case , and therefore be placed at its height. The other will be used to manage the higher frequencies, and will be placed in a panoramic position (although always in a directional configuration), centrally but at a higher level than the turntables (these models are generally called overhead ), making sure that interfere with instrumental performance.

Starting from this configuration, you can insert additional microphones: a third directional device can be added above the eardrum , at least 50 cm, by moving the central one to the opposite side in order to recreate a general view of the various components: the important thing is that they are equidistant from the center of the snare . A fourth directional microphone can be dedicated to the snare drum , in order to bring out the function of this important element in the composition of the sound.

If you have a complete kit of microphones for drums , made up of 5 elements, you will notice that one of these is ambient : in fact, a configuration of this type provides, starting from the configuration with 4 microphones illustrated in the previous paragraph, an additional omnidirectional microphone to be positioned according to the sound characteristics of the room in which it is recorded.

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With these opportune premises, I strongly advise you to experiment with different configurations, in order to adapt them to your sound, to the genre you prefer and to the sound qualities you want to bring out.

Mixer

4 channel mixer

In the following paragraphs, however, I will show you how to physically make the connection with a mixer or sound card .

The mixer , as the name suggests, is a device that has the purpose of mixing the sounds coming from different audio sources . When it comes to acoustic instruments, the sound can only be captured through an appropriate microphone system, as seen in the previous paragraph.

The microphones used, cardioid or condenser, must be connected via special balanced cables equipped with XLR (or Cannon) and TRS connectors: the female XLR connector, consisting of three holes inside a circular plug, must be inserted into its socket, while the male one (consisting of three pins inside a cylindrical cone) into the MIC In or Line In socket (the latter generally in the case of TRS) of the mixer.

In this way you will be able to equalize the various elements of your battery by acting on the potentiometers (or knobs) responsible for managing the high ( HIGH ), high, medium ( MID ) and low ( LOW ) frequencies of the relative channel, in order to define the sound beforehand forwarded to your computer.

However, there are various possibilities for connecting the mixer to the PC. If you use a digital mixer you can certainly use the USB cable to connect it directly to the computer without intermediate audio interfaces.

If it is an analog mixer , you will also need to have an external sound card that has special stereo inputs: you can therefore opt for the connection via a cable equipped with two male RCA connectors on one side, to be inserted into the sound card and other two male RCA connectors to be inserted into the stereo out outputs of the mixer.

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Audio card

multichannel sound card

The optimal solution is undoubtedly that of adopting an audio card with multiple channels , in order to assign each single element to a physical channel of the audio interface and to be able to record even in multitrack if necessary . The physical inputs can thus also be logically associated on the DAW with the various tracks, for accurate post-production processing of the sound of each element.

Multi -channel sound cards are normally equipped with combo inputs , which accept the insertion of both XLR and TRS connectors of the cables coming from those microphones which, as I illustrated in the previous paragraph, are indispensable for recording acoustic drums.

Therefore, if you want to record drums with a sound card and obtain good level performances, but you still have to proceed with the purchase of the aforementioned interface, I advise you to evaluate one with at least 4 channels and follow the previously exposed microphone configuration.

The sound card, in turn, can be easily connected to the PC with a very intuitive procedure. If you want to learn more about this topic, I suggest you read my dedicated guide.

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Hey Guys this is Mohammed Asif Who has a passionate blogger, Student, and die-hard Lawyer fan of John Cena and loves to read various books and novels. I share guides on windows, tech, apps, ios, and other Categories.

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