The best drum samples, or how to make your drum samples sound good
Ever wondered why your drums just don’t seem to be up to par with what others have done before you?
I’ve been there, my friend, and I know how frustrating it can be. And you might have gone off looking for an answer as to why your drums just doesn’t sound professional. You might have read everything there is to know about mixing your music and processing sounds and recording and more…
You’ve tried so much but you’re not quite there yet. Could be that you’re doing everything you can to give that kick sample the beef it needs, but still you keep arriving at a dull thud with no life, no sparkle, no power! You still don’t know how to get the best drum samples.
The frustration with making your drum samples sound great
So allow me to put a halt to all of your frustrations. Let me tell you right now what could be the reason for your fruitless efforts in trying to make your music sound professional. There is one thing stopping you from making your drum samples sound good. One thing that ensure’s you’re not getting the best drum samples:
You are trying to polish a turd!
Yes, that’s right. A turd. If I were to guess, that’s the number one reason why you are not getting a great sound with all the EQ, compression, or saturation techniques that are known to man.
You are not working with quality samples!
Here at thesoundcoach.com I like to talk about sound. About how great sound is the one thing you need to keep in mind when making music
And this is true every step of the way. It’s not something that you need to consider only when mixing, it’s not only when composing, not only when producing… you need to strive for great sound all the way through.
If you’re not working with the best drum samples you can – that means you didn’t fully understand the mantra you need to keep repeating: “how does this sound?”.
The problem with trying to make a meager sounding sample sound good is simply this:
There’s nothing there for you to improve!
Take a look at these waveforms below and listen to the respective samples.
Surely you were able to spot the difference. Noticed how the second sample sounded way more “fat” or dense? And how the first one was kind of whimpy? You can hear that, but you can even see it in the waveforms!
And why? It’s because the first one was a really bad quality kick drum sample compared to the second one.
Now, what happened when you were using all those EQs and compressors to try and make your drum samples sound better? You were trying to carve away at something that was already empty to begin with! You can’t just expect to take a rubbish kick sample and turn it into a monster thump – just like you can’t expect to be able to polish a turd!
“But Kevin”, as I’m sure you’re thinking right now: “can’t I use a saturation plugin to add harmonic content to my samples? Or layering?”.
Sure. You can absolutely do that and it will give you satisfactory results – if you are any good at sound design!
Just using a saturator to get a better sound won’t get you all the way. In fact, if you’re trying to beef up existing poor samples, you might actually be better off just synthesising your own samples from scratch. But that’s just another way for you to actually get better samples next to buying a sample pack. And synthesising your own samples is a completely different topic. In conclusion:
Garbage in, garbage out
That’s really what it all boils down to. You might be the best mixer in the world, but if you’re not working with quality material from the start, you’re not going to be able to make it work.
So stop thinking about how to make your drum samples sound good. Just get out there and find yourself some good drum samples to start off with! Below you can find a short list of providers, but there’s definitely a whole lot more around. If you’ve got a suggestion to add to this list, please drop a line here in the comments. I’d love to hear from you!
Thanks again for letting me be your soundcoach. Hope to hear from you soon!
Kevin – The Soundcoach