The All-Things-Audio Blog

How to get some High Quality "2001" Tom Drum Sounds

Tom drums are one of the hardest things for me to get right in a mix. I feel like if I try and make them “big and epic” they end up sounding cheesy. On the other hand, if I don’t go all in with them, then they’re just lifeless and boring, with no impact in the mix. So how do you get them to sound full and cut without sounding fake?

One way I’ve found that helps is by having a duplicate track running an octave above the source, which gives your ears more to grab onto, and identify them in a mix a lot easier. It also helps bring out the tonal quality of toms. If you’ve ever played drums or heard a tom, you know it has a heavy “DOOOOONNNNG” type sound. This is its resonating frequency, what helps distinguish a high tom from a floor tom. This resonating frequency is also something that is really easy to get buried in a mix.

If you’re like me, it seems like your toms sound like a piece of paper being flicked by a pen, certainly not...

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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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