Session Drums - Limitations?

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Domino230
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Joined: Sun Aug 15, 2010 9:31 pm

Session Drums - Limitations?

Post by Domino230 » Sun Aug 15, 2010 9:41 pm

Hey, I'm looking to upgrade my cheap Simmons electronic drum kit for something a lot more dynamic and realistic (2-3 zone pads, etc).. Keep in mind, I'm not interested in the sounds of the drum module itself but only as a midi controller. But, can session drums utilize, for example, the 3-zone pads on a kit like the Yamaha DTXtreme III XL?

On the same topic, does anyone have an opinions on midi drum kits between $1,000 and $3,000?

Cheers.

theophilus
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Re: Session Drums - Limitations?

Post by theophilus » Mon Aug 16, 2010 1:03 pm

Somewhat... you get hit, rim, and sidestick on the snare, and 3 ways on the ride too (i think it's rim/mid/bell) which support 3 way triggers. The hihat is pretty flexible as well... you get 5 or 6 patches for closed/open tip, closed/open shank, foot splash, pedal close. That's not bad. However, the toms and crash cymbals usually only have a single articulation, so multi-zone triggers wouldn't really do you any good there. I don't know much about the yamaha (or any of them really... not a drummer and never played any of the high-end kits, but looking into getting a cheaper kit now) but it wouldn't support roland positional sensing or crash choke either (though crash choke could probably be programmed in). The positional sensing support would really require it to be sampled. I don't know if even BFD supports positional sensing either though; I don't think that SSD or drum masters 2 supports it either. Not sure how much it helps, but having played with a real kit and tried hitting around the drum, it probably would add a little realism.

can't comment on the high-end kits... i've been eyeing an alesis usb pro, it has all the multizone triggers and it's only ~$600 or so, but it's not mesh if you want that and doesn't have all the positional sensing stuff on the higher-end kits.

slirak
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Joined: Tue Jul 24, 2007 10:03 pm

Re: Session Drums - Limitations?

Post by slirak » Mon Aug 16, 2010 2:45 pm

Positional sensing outputs a CC that in Roland's own modules are used to something similar to variable crossfading between different samples, of hits more or less close to the rim. (They probably don't crossfade at all, but change various modeling parameters, but the effect is similar.) The goal is to get a different sound

I'm sure you could achieve something similar in Session Drums, but you'd have to do the mapping yourself. It's possible though.
But it actually sounds pretty OK without it, so I've never bothered.

Cymbal chokes output polyphonic key pressure (aka aftertouch) and I don't think Live supports that at all.

theophilus
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Re: Session Drums - Limitations?

Post by theophilus » Tue Aug 17, 2010 1:47 pm

All i meant was, the crossfading could be implemented easily with the CC, but you have to already have the intermediate samples to crossfade through - actually I think crossfading hit into rim might be musically useful, it isn't exactly the same as a real snare (my experience is admittedly limited). For example, just playing on the crash at church, there is a wide variety of sounds going from very rim to the bell. Probably at least 6-7 sounds that can be differentiated. Note that no software instrument I know of supports that though.

You're right, it sounds fine without out; the effect is somewhat subtle. One thing I wish I could do (and I only started playing a few weeks ago)... i like to vary hitting the hihat with the tip of the stick and the shank; the tip gives a more 'closed' sound, the shank the more 'swish' sound, and it sounds good mixing them. I guess if you had a multizone hihat you could fake that though (session drums does include all the samples for that).

Polyphonic key pressure... yeah, you're right, you'd need some kind of midi translator to make that work with live. Could be done, but not simply.

Domino230
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Re: Session Drums - Limitations?

Post by Domino230 » Thu Aug 19, 2010 8:31 pm

Thanks Theo, very helpful.

slirak
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Re: Session Drums - Limitations?

Post by slirak » Thu Aug 19, 2010 10:30 pm

theophilus wrote:i like to vary hitting the hihat with the tip of the stick and the shank
So that's what "shank" means in Session Drums! I never figured that one out, I've always been thinking "shank, what shank, the shank of the hi-hat, what's that???"... It never occurred to me that it was the shank of the sticks! Man do I feel stupid! :D

Yeah, well I've got a Roland TD12 kit with the VH-11 hi-hat. It can't tell what part of the stick you're hitting the hat with, I don't think any hi-hat controller can. But it has one zone for the edge and one for - eh- the hat? You can easily assign separate samples for the two zones in Session Drums. Doing so certainly helps with the realism.

Actually, the hi-hat needed the most tweaking to respond good to my pad kit. It was pretty hard to get the transition from fully closed to fully open right. I finally managed though.

The cymbals needed a bit of work too (I've got three-zone cymbal pads) and I'm not altogether happy with them yet. Not really a (big) limitation of Session Drums though, you should be able to get pretty satisfying results with the right combination of samples for different cymbal zones.

Yes, the multi-zone/positional sensing of high-end Roland kits (and Yamaha's I guess) do give the impression of having lots of different sounds, but at least with the Roland kits, there's really just one basic sound per zone and they're really not very good, even in the high-end modules. (And IMHO the Yamaha sounds are even worse.) What the high-end Roland modules do is some pretty clever parameter modulation that makes the sounds respond pretty naturally to your playing technique. That gives the impression of having a lot more different samples than you actually have.

You can emulate quite a bit of that with Session Drums (plus Sampler) but not all of it.

Still, judging from my own experience and from comments on e-drum forums, I'd say most people still feel that the higher sample quality of of most dedicated drum plug-ins compensate for that - and then some.

With Session Drums and a few hours of tweaking, I'm much closer to my ideal kit then I ever was with the ridiculously expensive TD12 module.

theophilus
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Re: Session Drums - Limitations?

Post by theophilus » Fri Aug 20, 2010 12:36 pm

:) yeah, with the shank, I was puzzled for a long time. and I was curious about the different sounds in some of the other libraries I used, which had just a single hihat - some sounded like tip, and some more splashy, and I was surprised hi-hats sounded that different. It didn't click until I watched our drummer, who always uses the shank... then the light came on. And i'd had it a year and no idea!

td12 - very nice! that's cool you can actually play... i can't really play anything, my gear is a bit out of my league :) but i'm still going to get a cheap e-kit soon I think. i thought positional sensing was more than that, too bad it doesn't sound any better... honestly, even on a real drum kit, the difference from hit to hit (which you model with velocity on the e-kit) is just as large a difference as the difference around the drum usually (from my limited experience), so I can imagine it doesn't really hurt anything. The crash (or ride, I forget what i was messing with) was a little weird... the highest bell-like sound on ours is actually not on the bell, it's about 3" from the rim, maybe because of the curvature. But otherwise, really not anything unusual.

Weird... i have session drums, steven slate (audiomidi specials rock!) and some ocean way/drum masters 2 kits. I used to play them with a nanopad until it busted. The SSD kits are really processed, so weird to play with. Some of the oceanway/SSD kits are really nice and sound better than session drums, with a lot of mojo, but have weird velocity curves... you barely hear it and then all of a sudden it's loud. Maybe that's how a real drum is and I just need to add some compression/etc but they are already a little processed. Session drums sounds great and seems to have more natural velocity curves... dunno how that will hold up with real triggers but i'm looking forward to trying them....

Piplodocus
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Re: Session Drums - Limitations?

Post by Piplodocus » Fri Aug 20, 2010 1:34 pm

The Multimic kits default to having a Hi-Hat openness macro knob. You can assign this to a MIDI CC if you Hi-Hat pedal sends CCs.

I bought myself an electronic Alesis kit (which doesn't send variable Footpedal openness so never tried it myself though). I figured it's be a long time til I can play it as well as I program them though so it's currently in the loft.

I discovered that recently so I can automate my hi-hat openness better, but find some of the non-multimic kits sound better to my ears in their default state so I think some fiddling on my part is due...
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Mac OSX: 10.8.2, Live Suite: 9.0.2 (64-bit) Live user since:v5 (Above now has an APC40, 8GB RAM and a Diezel 212F Cab but currently too lazy to re-draw it all)

Piplodocus
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Re: Session Drums - Limitations?

Post by Piplodocus » Fri Aug 20, 2010 1:57 pm

Not wanting to Hijack the thread but any good tips to get the most out of session drums, especially the Multimic ones?

I'm after a punchy alternative rock/funk crossover sound that'll do somewhere from Live dance (a la Faithless type thing) merging through James Brown to more of a Incubus/Tool/Hard Rock sound. Basically punchy, funky, sits tight with lots of fat guitars/bass/synth and far removed from some woolley british 60s/retro sound.
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Mac OSX: 10.8.2, Live Suite: 9.0.2 (64-bit) Live user since:v5 (Above now has an APC40, 8GB RAM and a Diezel 212F Cab but currently too lazy to re-draw it all)

theophilus
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Re: Session Drums - Limitations?

Post by theophilus » Fri Aug 20, 2010 3:27 pm

which alesis kit do you have? the more recent ones (trigger io, usb pro, dm10, etc.) definitely have it. But you might have to remap it - iirc, the alesis ones send on CC0 (mod wheel), while session drums (and roland IIRC) expects it on CC4. Easy to fix. Don't forget as well, the CC doesn't have to come from the drum module - i just had a nanopad (which obviously doesn't have a continuous pedal), but I hooked up one through my E4K and it worked great - hard to get the hang of a footpedal with drum pads but it did open and close the hat. (use the open hat note number, it's the only one that varies).

i learned a lot from the pre-processed kits. Session drums in general tends towards the unprocessed, raw side, whereas what you're looking for is going to be heavily processed with compression, eq, and maybe tape sim. There are a few effects racks that come with session drums (they're included in the processed kits but you can save them off), 'Vintage Drums', 'Warm and Tough', 'Warm and Tough 2', 'Espresso Drums', 'Vintage Finalizer' (all those might come with regular live by now), they are good ones to try. Some of the multimic kits also have processed versions with separate processing for kick and snare, for instance, which you could look at. The difference between the 'raw' kit and the 'processed' kit is often not subtle.

slirak
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Re: Session Drums - Limitations?

Post by slirak » Sat Aug 21, 2010 11:58 am

theophilus wrote:that's cool you can actually play
Well, sort of... 8)
Not worthy that kit really!
theophilus wrote: i thought positional sensing was more than that, too bad it doesn't sound any better...
Well, positional sensing on its own doesn't make any sound at all, it's just the name of the technology that sense where you play the pad. Good stuff.

And Roland's modeling technology (COSM) certainly has its strengths and is pretty advanced. They've developed a way to model a lot of the parameters that makes an acoustic drum behave the way it does. They've got parameters for shell material, shell depth, head type, head dampening (there's virtual duct tape, virtual cloth etc), bass drum beater material etc etc. Lots of cool things, right there for you to tweak. And they model how drums and cymbals behave when you hit them with different velocity and at different parts of the head. They even take into account how fast you play. You don't get all of this is you just use your kit to trigger Session Drums, obviously.

But Roland don't achieve this by having massive amounts of samples to switch between. They're not telling exactly how COSM works, but apparently, they use a small set of samples and then use advanced processing to change how these samples sound in response to how you tweak the various parameters and how you play.

The end result is a playing (and tweaking) experience that's surprisingly natural and realistic. To be honest, I was completely flabbergasted the first time I played a TD20.

Problem is, the samples aren't all that good to begin with. They're dull and lifeless and if you listen closely with headphones, you can even hear that the cymbals' release are looped. Roland's not saying how big the sample ROM is in the TD12 and TD20, but I've seen claims that it's a mere 512 MB - for some 250 different drums! BFD 2 has 55 GB of samples for like 96 different drums...

COSM is a great technology that translates your playing technique into very realistic changes of the drums' sound. But Roland really need to release a module that combines this with much better samples in order to compete with todays massive sample libraries.

Yamaha as well. Well, I haven't tried their latest high-end kit. But I did test their kits pretty thoroughly before I got the Roland and IMHO, the Yamaha's sounded much less realistic.

Mind you, most of these modules are pretty old now and even though I think BFD1 was out when the TD20 was released, it needed such a high-speced PC that it wasn't much of an alternative for an e-drummer. So for their time, they were more than adequate. But I'm sure we're gonna see new modules with much higher sample quality before soon. The 2Box kit comes to mind.

theophilus wrote:Some of the oceanway/SSD kits are really nice and sound better than session drums, with a lot of mojo, but have weird velocity curves... you barely hear it and then all of a sudden it's loud. Maybe that's how a real drum is and I just need to add some compression/etc but they are already a little processed. Session drums sounds great and seems to have more natural velocity curves... dunno how that will hold up with real triggers but i'm looking forward to trying them....
In my experience, the velocity curves of pad controllers, keyboards, pad kits etc can vary a lot between different brands and models. So a weird velocity curve with your controller might be a perfectly natural one with another. Good controllers often have several velocity curves to choose from. But Ableton can also come to the rescue. The Velocity MIDI effect can be used to alter a velocity curve.

slirak
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Re: Session Drums - Limitations?

Post by slirak » Sat Aug 21, 2010 12:18 pm

Piplodocus wrote:The Multimic kits default to having a Hi-Hat openness macro knob. You can assign this to a MIDI CC if you Hi-Hat pedal sends CCs.
The knob's there in the non-multimic kits too.

But you shouldn't assign this to CC4 - CC4 is already assigned to control openness. So you get all sorts of weird effects if you assign CC4 to the macro knob.

This really confused me at first, because you can't see that - unless you convert the open hi-hat's Simpler to a Sampler! Intuitive? Not.

stewart.james
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Re: Session Drums - Limitations?

Post by stewart.james » Fri Jun 14, 2013 3:28 pm

Apols for bumping a prehistoric thread, but I'm having some trouble setting up Session Drums with a Roland kit (TD-11 KV)

The main issue is that about half the hat signals go to the right place, but many others don't go to a hat slot - they go to D0 and A#-1. By shifting them up (to open and closed slots respectively) I'm getting all the notes but...

...SD has options for tip and shank (of the stick). The Roland I believe maps to edge and centre (of the hat).

Additionally there's a couple of quirks (my drummer friend appeared to have been playing remarkably consistent snare rolls at random points, until I realised that another note was triggering this). I was surprised about the hat mapping, because I'd assumed that all hat notes go to F#1/G#1/A#1, with CC4 to control pedal openness (I have set 'foot controller'/CC4 to 'sample select' in the open hat slot, I assume that's correct?)

In essence: is there some sort of v-drums midi mapper patch in Ableton that will point everything in the right place? I'm using Suite 9 with the new SD.

I've been downloading various third-party possibilities but I'd like to be able to get it right in Ableton first if at all possible.

Cheers

Stew

login
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Re: Session Drums - Limitations?

Post by login » Fri Jun 14, 2013 6:37 pm

Honestly, is kind of a mess to get Sessions drums configured right for v-drums. first there are not enogh different types of hits, like for hats.

You would have to make a drum rack using external instrument to remap the notes so you dont have to switch the samples form slots in every kit, but then again as you have noticed not all kits are mapped the same.

Around the forum in an old post there is a rack for addictive drums (when AD didn't have mapping) which has already mapped notes according to the outputs of v-drums, search it.

Also since ableton doesn't support polyfonic aftertouch it can't use the chokes form the v.drums module, you will have to use a tool like e-drum tigger to convert those aftertouch in to notes that ableton can recognize.

having said all that, try Addictive drums, IMHo it's the best VST to use with v-drums, it comes with many mapping for allmost all roland and yamaha kits.

theophilus
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Re: Session Drums - Limitations?

Post by theophilus » Fri Jun 14, 2013 7:39 pm

you don't have to make a drum rack, you just need a midi rack which does the remapping. then you drop that in front of the normal session drums presets.

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