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How to Replace and Augment Drums with Massey DRT and BFD2

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How to Replace Drums with Massey DRT and BFD2
How to Replace Drums with Massey DRT and BFD2 - youtube Video
My name is Ian Vargo with I’m gonna give an introduction to drum augmentation and replacement with the Massey DRT plugin and the popular virtual instrument BFD2. Drum replacement and augmentation is a controversial topic. There are engineers that say if you can’t record it right then why replace samples. The way I look at it is if Roger Nickels, the engineer for Steely Dan — the man who popularized it and put it into practice — if it was good enough for him then it’s good enough for me.


The way I like to look at replacing or augmenting drums is what are the individual sounds missing. For example the snare in this song, which I’m going to solo and play.

[solo snare drum]

Had a nice sort of crack and high end. But perhaps missing some low end and some room and explosiveness. So when augmenting or replacing samples I like to think about what the sound is missing and add it with additional samples. I’m going to take the clip of the sample, of the snare, and I’m gonna go to Audiosuite, instrument, Massey DRT. I’m going to click analyze, and we’ll see yellow trigger points. This is the demo version of the Massey plugin and I find it works fine. But i would definitely recommend Steven Massey’s plugins. What we see is every time we have a transient the plugin has created a yellow trigger point. Sometimes we’re going to have too many trigger points. Maybe it will read a kick sound or a bleed from a hi-hat or something like that, but in this case I think we’re in good shape. Let’s listen.

[snare with drum replacement]


I’m fairly certain we’re in good shape and only trigger points we’re seeing are trigger points we want to be converted later to MIDI data.

[snare drum + Massey DRT]

It’s even picking up ghost notes. We’re going to select this whole clip and we have options here, we can compress our triggers or we can raise the overall volume, so we’re gonna do a little bit of each. And it’s as simple as MIDI drag and drop. And I’m gonna drag to an instrument track that already has BFD2 loaded up on it. Going to go to clips, going to hit Y so it drags it to the beginning of the session. Now every time we have a snare hit, we also have a MIDI trigger point.

[snare drum + samples]

Not only does it create perfect sample accurate trigger points, but it includes velocity data. So when we have those ghost notes, it can actually import that into the velocity information. Next I’m going to load up BFD 2, a really great drum sampling software. Gonna load up a snare. Let’s go with this one for example. And now the only issue is perhaps the notes that we dragged from the Massey plugin are not actually at where the snare is located. You can see it was set to where the kick was. So let’s go over to notes, shift and drag.


[snare drum + BFD2 sample]

I find that the BFD2 plugin runs a bit hot. So you’re gonna have some distortion on your track. Let’s drag the gain down. Now we have control over room, ambience or you can just use the overhead sound. So if you have a really close sound, but you want some room and some ambience, just use this. If you have a roomy snare sound, you can just use the direct signal. And this plugin goes very deep. You can change the tuning. You can change dampening.

At this point I’d use some effects, some EQ and compression to sculpt the snare sound. Then come out of BFD2 and if I have a very direct sound, I print it to a mono audio track. Let’s call this new snare. I like to put in signifiers, so if it’s close I will type in close or if it’s ambient I will type in ambient so I know on the track. Let’s say new snare close. Then I hit record and play. That is recorded now as audio. I could do this many times and the result is basically whatever those snare and kick sounds were missing, I can add back in. In this case I’ll show you a couple of the different sounds I used.

The original snare we have here. I added a beefy snare sound. This roomy sound. And a very distant ambience. That’s hard to hear I’ll turn it up. Same thing with the kick. So we’ve got this kick here.

[snare drum + kick drum]

I added an upper midrange type sound. And all together, It really just helps reinforce the transients and you can have a lot of fun by changing the style of the performance and the overall vibe of the sound. I think drum replacement and augmentation is not cheating whatsoever.

If you have any questions make sure to contact me and check out Baby Cake by Ugly, Ugly words on iTunes. Once again this has been Ian Vargo with The Pro Audio Files.


Ian Vargo

Ian Vargo is a Producer, Mixer and Audio Professor based in Los Angeles. He has worked on numerous major label and independent records. Get in touch on his website or learn more from him in Mastering in the Box and Mixing Pop.