The All-Things-Audio Blog

Getting Natural Sounding Drums from MIDI

A lot of people struggle to get their “MIDI” sounding drums to sound human. I’m a huge advocate on helping people understand ways to make their programmed drums sound more human. So what’s the trick? Well there’s not just one, there’s a lot of subtle moves that you can do to make your drums sound natural.

One way is to create “flams”. Make big hits by “flamming” them, or offsetting them from the grid a little bit. This leads to another trick; do not quantize everything to the grid all the time. Make sure your key hits are lined up (like the 1st) and then let everything else fall in its place. Let your drum beat be loose. You could also change some of the velocities, so no hit has the same impact as the last, creating a more realistic groove and rhythm in your drums.

However, one of the best things you can do to help is while you are triggering drums. For the longest time I struggled to make my triggered drums or...

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