Video: How to Add Drum Samples to Live-Recorded Drum Tracks

A popular way for record producers and mixing engineers to add depth, excitement, or extra power to acoustic drum tracks is to add drum samples on top. Now, you may think this is a daunting process—how are you going to line up samples to all of your snare and kick hits? Or, perhaps, you're afraid it will end up sounding fake and unnatural.

Today, producer, engineer, and mixer Jay Maas is here to show you two different ways to mix in samples with your live-recorded drum tracks.

The first is within your DAW. Maas prefers Cubase, but there are equivalent techniques in most DAWs. At its most basic, the trick is to find all of the hits you want from your audio track and turn them into a MIDI track. But you won't have to do this for each hit individually.

So long as you define what threshold the transients on the audio track must reach in order to register, you'll be able to have a duplicate MIDI track with only the hits you want to double. Then, you just have to find a drum sound you like from a drum sample pack, library, or another recording you've made before and enjoyed, for the MIDI track to play.

Maas uses hits he knows and loves from his own signature drum library, but there are many others to choose from, including those from The Loop Loft, Smack, and more. (Check out all of the drum sample packs and libraries on Reverb.)

The second way to accomplish the same feat is to use a program like Steven Slate's Trigger to analyze the audio track. While Maas uses Slate's, you'll be able to find similar programs from Waves, SPL, and other plugin makers. An important note in this and in the previous method is to make sure all of your recorded and sampled drum hits are in phase with one another.

Be sure to watch the full video above to learn exactly how to add drum samples to your live-recorded drum tracks, and to learn more tips and tricks for combating phase and perfecting your sound.

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