One of the secrets of professional producers is how they make their drums. When you listen to professional productions you will often notice that the drums have feeling and a groove to them. You don’t get this same feeling from most amateur productions.
A lot of professional productions are using pads to or a midi keyboard to record their drum parts. This can be the secret sauce to getting great sounding drums in your productions.
What is the importance of using pads or a midi keyboard for making drum sequences?
When making drums its easy to open up your step sequencer of choice and begin painting in drum patterns. The issue with this method is that it often leaves you with a robotic feeling drum pattern. When drum patterns are perfectly quantized and lack any change in velocity and swing they lose the human element that can drive the track along.
To combat this element, it is ideal to use drum pads or a midi keyboard for making drum sequences. Pads will give the best result for recording drums. The use of pads also allows you to capture the human element of the drum performance by capturing the velocity of each hit, the swing of the groove, and slight imperfections from the grid. All these elements add life back into the drum performance and will usually result in a better sounding performance.
If you don’t have pads to use you can also use a midi keyboard or sometimes your computer keyboard as a midi controller. Although pads are the ideal tool to use, the midi keyboard can yield the same result. After you have finished recording the drums you can also go in and do some quantizing to clean it up a bit but I wouldn’t recommend making everything perfect. That what take away what we are trying to accomplish using the pads in the first place.
The Beat Mixing Guide
Are you struggling to make great sounding beats?
Another great reason for using pads on your drums is that you can easily take ideas in your head and convert them to drum patterns. When you are just painting in drum sequences it can be hard to easily replicate what you are hearing. If you are using pads you can tap out the beat you hear in your head and record it. It is much easier to capture an idea you have this way than trying to compose it in the step sequencer.
Experiment with pads and give it a shot the next time you are creating a drum part for a beat. I find that it typically gives a beat a much better sounding drum performance.