Monday, August 24, 2020

Make Your Own Drum Samples

By TOM BOWSER

I created this tutorial from a video tutorial by Bobby Torres at Frightbox Recording Academy.

I take a slightly different approach when performing the editing used to create the drum samples. I also list the Pro Tools editing shortcuts and key commands I use just in case you've forgotten them.

The information in the following two bulleted lists is taken directly from Bobby Torres's video tutorial. Why? I couldn't have said it any better!

Why would you want to make your own drum samples?

  • When using drum samples of the actual kit used in a production they will blend better with the rest of the drum kit for example, with the overheads and rooms.
  • You will end up with your own unique sounding production, For example, if you want to go for a higher sounding snare sound for a production you are working on you can tune the snare higher and then sample it. The samples will be unique to the project you're working on.
  • You’ll also build up your own unique Slate Trigger library of drum sounds with every project you complete.

Record drum samples on a day you record the drums. To capture drum samples and keep the kick and snare sounding more natural:

  • Have the drummer play a simple patter for example, kick, snare, kick kick, snare, kick, snare, kick kick, snare at a normal velocity. It is boring for the drummer and the person doing the recording, but it will be worth it because you will end up with a very natural sounding kick and snare sample collection to choose from.
  • Create Tom samples just in case you need to fly in a few if there is too much cymbal bleed in the actual drum performance.
  • Create cymbal samples just in case something comes up and you need to fly in a cymbal hit. For example, the drummer hits his china just a little to lite during an important section of a song then you have a harder china hit you can fly it in.

NOTE: You will want to create file samples for between five and ten hits of each drum or cymbal you want to trigger. For this tutorial I create 5 samples.

Before beginning this tutorial:

  • Enable "Commands keyboard Focus" by clicking on the a/z button at the right corner of the Pro Tools Edit window. See image below. This will allow you to use single key shortcuts I use in this tutorial.
Enable Commands keyboard Focus in Avid Pro Tools
  • Enable the "Smart Tool" by left clicking on the bar above the Trim, selector and Grabber tools. When the Smart Tool is selected it turns blue as does the Trim, Selector and Grabber tools. See image below.
Enable the Smart Tool in Avid Pro Tools

How to create drum samples:

  • Set the Pro Tools grid to 1/8 or 1/4 note depending on how much sustain each hit has and how long the decay of each hit is. 1/8 note was used for this tutorial. Left click the tiny drop down arrow to change the grid settings. I've drawn a red square around the drop down arrow in the image below. Left click on a note value to change to that value.
Change the grid settings in Avid Pro Tools
  • Show/open the drum track you want to create samples from.
  • Create a new audio track (press and hold down the Ctrl + SHIFT + n keys). Select "Audio Track". Use the name of the drum for the track name for example, kick. Drag it below the track you want to create samples from.
  • Change the size of both tracks to large. Right click the vertical bar to the left of the track then choose the track size from the menu. See image below.
Change the track size in Avid Pro Tools
  • Find 5 drum hits that are approximately the same height on the track you want to sample.
  • Zoom into the track until you can clearly see the transient/beginning of each drum hit. To zoom press and hold down the Ctrl key then repeatedly press the ] key (zoom out) or [ key (zoom in).
  • Select the 5 drum hits. Left click before the first of the 5 drum hits you selected. Press and hold down your left mouse button then drag from left to right across all five hits. See image below.
Five selected drum hits in Avid Pro Tools
  • Press the letter c key on your keyboard to copy the selected drum hits.
  • Left click inside the new track you created.
  • Press the letter v key to copy the selected drum hits into the new track.
  • Slide the left side of the copied drum hits clip to a grid line. Grid lines are the light grey vertical lines in the track. Left click and hold down your left mouse button on the bottom half of the clip, then drag left.
  • Adjust your zoom level as needed to match the image below.
  • Select the first, left hand side drum hit (kick drum hit in this tutorial) See image below
Selected drum hit in Avid Pro Tools
  • Press the letter b on your keyboard to separate the clip at both ends.
  • Continue to separate (select the drum hit then press the b key) the rest of the drum hits you want to use for samples. Work methodically from left to right. Once all the drum hits are separated …
  • Delete non drum hit clips that are remaining. Work methodically from one end of the track to the other. Left click on the bottom half of a leftover clip to select it then press the x key to delete it. Continue until only separated drum hits remain.
Selected clip in Avid Pro Tools
  • Left click on the bottom of the left most drum hit and drag it left to the nearest grid line.
  • Drag the remaining drum hits so their left hand edge lines up with a grid line. The left hand edge of all the drum hits should be aligned with a grid line.
Five drum hits aligned with the grid in Avid Pro Tools
  • Align your mouse cursor with the right hand edge of the first (left most) drum hit. The cursor will change to a left facing square bracket. This is the Trim Tool. I drew a red box around it in the image below.
Trim tool showing on track in Avid Pro Tools
  • Press and hold down your left mouse button and drag the edge of the drum hit clip right or left as needed to the nearest grid line. Align the rest of the drum hits in the same way. Each drum hit needs to be uniform in length and within a pair of 1/8 note grid lines. See image below.
Five kick drum hits within 1/8 note gridlines on a track in Avid Pro Tools
  • Listen to verify that each hit sounds as it should. If a drum hit clicks or pops replace it with one of your good drum hits. Select the good hit then press the letter c to copy it and the letter p to paste it where you want.
  • Add a 5 millisecond fade to the beginning and end of each hit to prevent pops or clicks. You may not hear a pop or click now, but you may if compression is applied to the hits in a mix.

To create the fades:

  • Select the 5 drum hits. Left click before the first of the 5 drum hits. Press and hold down your left mouse button then drag from left to right across all five hits.
  • Press and hold down the Ctrl then f key to call the Batch fades dialog.
  • Type the number 5 in the box to assign the "Length" for both the Fade In and Fade out Operations. Click inside the box and enter a number.
  • Left click on the "OK" button to create the fades.
  • Check each hit to verify that the transient/beginning of the clip is not cut off by the fade-in. See the image below for an example of a fade in that crosses into the transient of the drum hit. The two white lines that form a triangle on the left hand side of the image below is the "fade in".

    If the transient/beginning of the drum hit is cut off, the sound of the drum hit will not have as much impact. Also, Slate Trigger uses the transient to initiate/trigger the playback of a sample. You could get triggering errors if this is not corrected. 

Transient cut off by fade in kick drum clip in Avid Pro Tools

If the fade in is cutting off the transient then select the clip and nudge the audio within the clip until the transient is no longer truncated/cut off by the fade in.

Set the nudge value:

  • Left click on the tiny drop down arrow (see image below).
  • Left click on "100 Samples" to begin, change to 10 as/if needed.
Setting the nudge value in Avid Pro Tools

To nudge audio inside a clip without moving the clip:

  • Select the drum hit you want to nudge (left click on the bottom half of drum hit clip).
  • Press and hold down the "Windows Start key" (has the Windows logo on it).
  • Press the + (plus) key to move backward and - (minus) key to move forward on the time line. You must use the + and - keys on the numeric keypad of your keyboard for this to work.

The image below shows the corrected drum hit clip after the audio in the clip has been nudged to the right and forward on the time line using the - key.

Nudge audio inside a clip without moving the clip in Avid Pro Tools
  • Listen to all the drum hit clips to ensure there are no clicks or pops or other unwanted noise.
  • Consolidate the drum hit clips to make them into files. You must consolidate each drum hit individually. Once they are consolidated you cannot shorten or lengthen them by dragging with the Trim tool. Once the files are consolidated you will no longer see the fade in/outs. The fades will be incorporated within the file.

To consolidate a clip:

  • Select the clip.
  • Press and hold down the Alt + SHIFT + 3 keys.

Export your drum hit sample files from Pro Tools:

  • Select the files to export. Make a selection across all the files to export them in one batch.
  • Press and hold down the Shift + Ctrl then K keys on your keyboard.
  • Choose a "Bit Depth" of 24 and a "Sample Rate" of 48 kHz.
  • Left click on the "Choose" button to select where you want to store your drum hit samples.
  • Left click on the "Export" button to export the files from Pro Tools.

The drum sample files are exported as .wav files.

Use the FREE Slate Trigger 2 Instrument Editor to convert the .wav files into the .tci file format native to Slate Trigger. I've created a short tutorial on how to use the Trigger 2 Instrument Editor. I also provide download links to both the Slate Trigger 2 Instrument Editor and it's manual in .pdf.

TIPS:

File management - Be organized!

  • Create a naming system to keep your drum sample files organized.
  • Copy the files you created into Slate Triggers sample library. Store your files in folders that are assigned meaningful names. At this stage the files we created are .wav files. They can be used by plug-ins other than Slate Trigger. Keep them just in case you change to using a plug-in other than Slate Trigger.
  • Back up your sample files to an external, online drive or both.

Watch Bobby's video here: How To Make Your Own Drum Samples (And Load Them Into Slate Trigger)


Single key shortcuts used in this tutorial

Press the letter:

  • b - to break/cut/separate at the cursor or both sides of a selection
  • x - to delete a selection
  • z - to undo the last operation
  • c - to copy the selection
  • v - to paste

Multi key shortcuts

To heal a break/cut/separation:

  • Make a selection over the break/cut/separation.
  • Press and hold down the Ctrl + h keys to heal the break/cut/separation.

Create fades:

  • Select the clip/drum hit you want to add a fade to.
  • Press and hold down the Ctrl + f key to bring up the fade dialog.
  • Set the fade in and fade out times to 5ms for this tutorial.

Consolidate a clip:

  • Select the clip/drum hit
  • Press and hold down the SHIFT + Alt + 3 keys

Export clip/s as files:

  • Select the files to export
  • Press and hold down the Shift + Ctrl + K keys on your keyboard

Slate Trigger 2 - Getting Started

By TOM BOWSER

This tutorial will help you begin to use Slate Trigger 2, the professional drum replacement, augmentation application and sound library.

I will demonstrate how to replace a kick/bass drum with a sample included in Slate Trigger 2. I'm using the Steven Slate Trigger 2 Platinum 64 bit plug-in for Pro Tools on Windows 10 Pro. However, this tutorial should help you get started using Slate Trigger 2 no matter which DAW you are using.

To begin using Slate Trigger 2:

  • Instantiate the Slate Trigger 2 plug-in as an insert on the drum track you want to replace or augment. For this tutorial I've inserted Slate Trigger 2 on a kick drum track.
  • Left click on the "Browser" button. See image below.
The file browser for Steven Slate Trigger 2
  • Left click the "Off" button to the right of "Audition" to toggle it to "On". See image above. This will allow you to listen to samples by left clicking on them in the Browser.
  • Left click on the:
    • plus sign to the left of a folder to expand and see the contents of the folder.
    • name of a sample to listen to it.
  • Left click on then hold down your left mouse button and drag a drum sample to an available slot at the bottom of Slate Trigger 2. This sample will be used to set up Slate Trigger 2 for the track. You can come back later to choose the "perfect" sample.
Drag drum sample to slot in Steven Slate Trigger 2
  • Left click on the "Triggering" button.
  • Begin playback (press the spacebar) of the track you have Slate Trigger 2 inserted on.
  • Set the input volume level to peak momentarily at zero/0 (top of the scale) with the hardest drum hits. The amplitude (shown vertically in blue) of the drum hits should reach both the top and bottom of the viewing area. See image below.
Set the input volume level in Steven Slate Trigger 2
  • Adjust the "Sensitivity" setting. The default setting of 50 may work depending on the track. It did for the track I used to create this quick start/tutorial. If the sensitivity is set to 0 a sample will NOT trigger. The kick drum hits are the tallest vertical, blue lines in the image below.
Adjust the sensitivity setting in Steven Slate Trigger 2
  • Adjust the "Detail" setting so the amplitude (height of the blue drum hits) of the drum you want to replace exceeds both the top and bottom grey lines. The default setting of 50 may work depending on the track. It worked perfectly for the track I used to create this quick start/tutorial. See image below.

    The 2 grey lines should also be above and below other drum sounds (leakage) for example, snare hits that may be audible on a kick drum track. If there are softer hits on the track that you want triggered and replaced or augmented you must reduce the Detail level to include them. Listen as you make these adjustments to ensure Slate Trigger 2 has triggered and replaced all the hits you want replaced or augmented.

Adjust the detail level in Steven Slate Trigger 2

Begin playback (press the spacebar) of the track you have Slate Trigger 2 inserted on. You should now hear your original tracks drum replaced with the sample you chose.

Listen to your track. Watch as the original track scrolls by to verify that each drum hit you want replaced or augmented is in fact replaced or augmented. Experiment with different samples and have fun!

Getting started workflow:

  • Choose your sample.
  • Set:
    • Input level
    • Sensitivity
    • Detail

TIPS:

Before I setup and begin to use Slate Trigger 2 I visually scan the track to get a sense for the average amplitude of the drum hits on the track. I look for soft hits to be sure my Slate Trigger 2 settings include them.

When I do my initial setup I usually drag Slate Trigger 2 down below the track I'm working on so I can see both the original track and the slate window showing the track. This makes it easier for me to verify that softer hits are triggering.

The image below shows a section of the original inside kick track used for this tutorial. The microphone used to record the kick was an American made Telefunken M82.

To remove a sample from a slot:

  • Press and hold down the Ctrl key of your keyboard.
  • Left click on the name of the sample you want to clear from a slot at the bottom of Slate Trigger 2.
  • A Pop-Up will open asking you whether you want to "Clear Slot"?
  • Press the "YES" button to clear the sample.

To quickly load a sample by double clicking it:

  • Left click on the "Settings" button.
  • Click in the option button to choose "Yes" next to "Enable Instrument Loading with Double Click:"

Troubleshooting playback tips:

  • You will NOT hear the replaced drum during playback unless/until you have chosen a sample.
  • You will NOT hear your original drum if the MIX control is set to %100. To hear your original drum you must turn the MIX control counterclockwise.
  • You can also listen/audition a sample by left clicking the slot it is loaded into at the bottom of Trigger 2.

See my tutorial on how to Make Your Own Drum Samples.

I also created a tutorial that demonstrates how to use the FREE Slate Digital Trigger Instrument Editor to create "Trigger Compressed Instruments" (.tci files) that can be loaded into Slate Trigger 2.

Slate Digital Trigger 2 Instrument Editor

By TOM BOWSER

This tutorial will help you get started using the "Slate Trigger 2 Instrument Editor". What is the Slate Trigger Instrument Editor? It allows you to create "Trigger Compressed Instruments" (.tci files) that can be loaded into Slate Trigger, the professional drum replacer and sample library.

See my tutorial "Make Your Own Drum Samples" to learn how to make drum samples that can be used with Slate Trigger Instrument Editor. The tutorial includes information presented by engineer/producer/mixer Bobby Torres from Frightbox Recording Academy. Bobby has worked in the metal and hard rock genres for over 10 years.

Download and install the:

  • Slate Trigger 2 Instrument Editor

    The above link leads directly to the Trigger Instrument Editor download file. Always run a virus scan on any file, no matter where you download it from.

Download the:

To convert .wav sample files into .tci file format native to Slate Trigger:

  • Run/open the Slate Trigger 2 Instrument Editor.
  • Left click on the "Select Directory" button (bottom left corner of the application window).
  • Navigate to the folder where you stored the sample .wav files you created. Left click on the folder to select it then the OK button. You have set the default directory where the Slate Instrument Editor will look for files to convert. All files the Instrument Editor found will be auto loaded into a window on the left hand side of the Slate Instrument Editor.
  • Double left click inside the box below the word "ROWS". See image below.
  • Type the number 1 inside the box then press the ENTER key.
  • Enter the number of samples you created for a single instrument in the box below COLUMNS. If you have 5 .wav sample files for a drum then enter the number 5 in the COLUMNS box and press the ENTER key.
Enter rows and columns in Slate Trigger 2 Instrument Editor
  • Select drum samples from within the directory window on the left hand side. The number of drum sample files you choose should match the number you typed in the COLUMNS box. These sample files should be for the same drum. For example, kick-1, kick-2, kick-3, kick-4, kick-5.
    • To select drum sample files in the left hand window:
      • Left click on the top most sample file to select it.
      • Press and hold down the SHIFT key on your keyboard.
      • Left click on the bottom sample file to select it (kick_5.wav in this tutorial). All the files between the bottom and the top file will be automatically selected.
Select files in Slate Trigger 2 Instrument Editor
  • Drag all five files onto the first slot, ROW 1. Files 2 through 5 will be automatically imported and will populate rows 2 - 5.
    • To drag the files once they have been selected:
      • Left click and hold down your left mouse button on any of the selected files in the left hand widow. See image below
      • While holding down your left mouse button slide/drag your mouse right to the first row column 1.
      • Release your left mouse button.
Sample files loaded into Slate Trigger 2 Instrument Editor
  • Double left click in the box to the right of the word Articulation. Type a name for this file sample collection (now referred to as an "Articulation") into the box. I like to incorporate the type of microphone used to record the drum into the name, for example, Kick - Telefunken M82
Save articulation in Slate Trigger 2 Instrument Editor
  • Left click on the "Save Instrument" button to save this instrument (kick) articulation.
  • Type a name in the Save As: box. Example, Kick - Telefunken M82
  • Navigate to where you want to save the articulation. Consider making a separate folder to save this articulation into. Remember to be organized when you name and store files. You will appreciate this advice 6 months to a year from now when your memory fades a bit.

When the Instrument Editor created the .tci file it included all the sample files (for example, kick-1, kick-2, kick-3, kick-4, kick-5) into a single, self-contained .tci file that can be loaded into Slate Trigger. When Slate Trigger uses the .tci file it rotates through each of the samples (5 in this tutorial) when it is triggered. Why? It sounds more natural and realistic to rotate through multiple versions of the same drum hit. After all, a real drummer (if they are human) would never produce 5 drum hits that are exactly the same.

Sound Geek Stuff

To the right of each drum sample file included in an articulation (see image below) is a pair of parentheses with Ampl: 4 digit number inside. In this case Ampl is used as an abbreviation for the word Amplitude. As it relates to sound, the amplitude of a sound wave determines it's volume or loudness. The 4 digit number is a measure of the amplitude or loudness of each drum hit. The drummer used to make the samples for this tutorial was hitting pretty consistently. Yeah, I told you it was sound geek stuff!

Amplitude measurements in Slate Trigger 2 Instrument Editor