How To Make Electronic Drums Sound Real

  • By: Music Tech Geek
  • Date: April 20, 2022
  • Time to read: 5 min.

Technology has completely revolutionized the music industry. Unlike the past when music producers relied on regular drums, today more and more people are switching to electronic drums because they are incredibly easy to use, allow quick access to a wide variety of sounds, make recording easy, are compact, and limit ambient noise.

How To Make Electronic Drums Sound Real
How To Make Electronic Drums Sound Real

If you are thinking of switching from the regular drum to an electronic drum, then you are making the right decision. However, you are likely to have a hard time tuning your electronic drum to sound real, especially if it is your first time using it. Fortunately, today you have landed in the right place. In this article, we will give you proven tips on how to make electronic drums sound real.

1. Buy a high-quality electronic drum

Your electronic drum can only do so much. The quality of your electronic drum will play a huge role in determining the quality of should that it will deliver. If you buy something that is of low quality, then you should not expect to deliver quality sound regardless of how much you try to tweak it.

So, the first very important thing to do is to purchase a high-quality electronic drum that will deliver excellent results when you tune it.

2. Vary the velocity level

Electronic drums usually come preprogrammed at constant velocity and that is one of the main reasons why they don’t sound real. In musical instruments, velocity refers to the volume that a particular device note sounds and usually varies from 0 to 127 with 0 being the lowest and 127 being the loudest.

If you want your electronic drum to sound real, then you have to adjust the velocity. If it is constant, it will not only sound unrealistic but it will also scare the listeners.

If you are keen, then you must have noticed that songs have a variety of velocities from various drums. When a drummer performs two hits on the same drum the second hit is usually stronger than the first one. That is how your electronic drum needs to sound. So change the velocity level of your electronic drum to make it sound real.

3. Use a keyboard or drum machine

Another great way to make your electronic drum sound real is by using a drum machine or keyboard. These devices will make the electronic drum sound natural by capturing the natural feel of a drum. When you hit a drum, the tempos usually vary slightly throughout while the notes are out of time slightly. This may sound bad but in reality, they are the things that make the drum sound real.

4. Create ghost notes

As the name suggests, ghost notes are notes that sound like they are there but in reality, they are not there. Creating ghost notes is incredibly easy. All you need to do is add hits with lower velocities between louder hits. For instance, you can try a low value like 35 for ghost notes.

5. Add a groove

Grove is an incredible feature in electronic drums that can help it sound more real. When you apply this feature, you will automatically change the velocities and timings of the track that you have recorded, thus making it sound real.

6. Add some off-beat notes

Another trick to making your electronic drum sound real is by adding some off-beat notes. In fact, when you record using a keyboard or drum machine and then check the piano roll, you will quickly discover that the notes are not perfectly in time.

They may be close but they are never perfectly in time. Of course, they should not be too far because it will sound sloppy and trashy, but it will be a good thing if they are slightly out. When you add some off-beat notes, the electronic drum will feel less robotic and create a much better experience for the listener.

7. Think like a real drummer

If you want your electronic drum to sound real, then you have to think like a real drummer. This means that any drumming part that you include should be something that an actual drummer can play. If you include a part that a real drummer cannot play, then it will be evident to your listeners that you are using a robot. For instance, even the best drummer cannot play straight 64th note hi-hats at 140bpm but can play a steady four on the floor rhythm.

The best way to make your electronic drum sound real is by listening to a real drummer playing. This way, you will easily know what is real and what is not.

8. Humanize your tracks

Another great way to make your electronic drum sound real is by humanizing your tracks. Humanizing your track simply means making your tracks feel like they were produced by humans, not software. This involves changing the timing and velocity of notes. However, you need to be very careful when changing velocity because if you get it wrong, then the rack will sound sloppy.

9. Add saturation

Electronic drums have software that makes them sound so pure. The best way to fix this and make your electronic drums sound real is by adding saturation to your sound.

10. Select the right sample

The sound sample that you choose will play a big role in determining how real your electronic drum will sound. Electronic drum programs come with a variety of different kit options. Experiment with multiple kits to know which one will provide the best result.

For instance, if you are writing a garage rock, it will be wise if you choose a kit that sounds loose or grungy. On the other hand, if you are writing a pop, it could be great if you choose a studio sounding kit. Picking the right sample will help your electronic drum sound more real.

11. Re-edit some parts

Another great way of making your electronic drum sound real is by re-editing parts of the track that don’t feel real to improve the groove. Pay close attention to the track by checking the feel of the guitar, and groove of the bass, among many other aspects, then edit parts that don’t feel real.

Conclusion

How your electronic drum sounds will determine whether the listeners will enjoy it or not. If you want your audience to enjoy the track, you need to make it sound real and that means tweaking the electronic drum to make it sound real. The tips given above will help you get real sound from your electronic drum.

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