Live Drum Programming Tips

Live Drum Programming Tips
May 9, 2019 Touch Loops

When programming live drums it’s often easy to end up with fake sounding beats that don’t feel realistic both in terms of performance or where they were ‘recorded’.

There are numerous options for sampler instruments but sometimes they don’t quite feel quite right hence we turn to building kits from random samples which can cause issues.

With that in mind, we decided to explore a few of our favourite techniques for adding some life to your beats for when you can’t get to record the real thing.


Re-record Your Beats

When piecing together samples from random kits is that’s unity of reverb and space that often give it away as fake.  Why not try re-recording your loops in a space as to provide some unity.


1 – Solo the elements of your drums that are from a live kit – Kicks, snares, hats, cymbals.

2 – Play the entire song out your speakers with just these elements playing.

3 – Set up a mic in your room and record the drum elements back into your DAW of choice.

4 – Layer this up against your original drums and processed / mix to taste.  We’re thinking EQ, compression and saturation.


Tip: Try placing the mic in different locations in your house or bathroom.  You could even try facing the mic towards a tiled wall or face down on a wooden surface – get creative.


Creating Fake Room Mics

Sometimes it’s not possible to re-record your drums due to location or a lack of a microphone.  What we can do though is fake a space to add depth and unity between your sounds.



1 – Solo the elements of your drums that are from a live kit – Kicks, snares, hats, cymbals.

2 – Do a bounce of the entire song with just these elements playing – this is the start of your new room sound.

3 – Add a reverb to your track.  This will take some experimentation but I’ve found having control of the ‘early reflections’ can help when with a wet dry of around 65% wet on the reverb.  We’re trying to create a sense of real room depth.

4 – Set the reverb time to something short like 700ms

5 – Add an EQ – We’re trying to make this sound like a reverb coming into the mic so experiment.  Here I’ve taken off the lows and tops to taste.




 6 – Add compression and more EQ if needed.  A had the compressor working quite aggressively in parallel to the original with a fast attack and release setting.


Results Below:

Touch Loops
Drum Room No FX
Touch Loops Drum Room No FX


Touch Loops
Drum Room With FX
Touch Loops Drum Room With FX



Velocity & Velocity Tools

An instant give-away when programming real sounding drums is a lack of velocity in the hits.  Humans very rarely hit two drums with exactly the same velocity so neither should your programming.  Think about the groove and when you’d hit a hi-hat harder or softer.

A great aid for this is a velocity tool – You can set a maximum and minimum velocity level and also set a randomise level ensuring your beats get that human feel.




Swing Settings

This works beautifully with a velocity tool and allows you to move the hits randomly off the grid.  As with velocity, humans aren’t perfectly quantised hence nor should your programming be.

Tip: The nice thing about swing settings over just moving your samples early or late is the randomness of it all.  This movement allows your samples to breath and sway adding even more realism.


 The Touch Loops Team.



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