Electronic Drums

MIDI?! What tha?!

hi guys, i am interested in buying an electronic drumset and am looking for any advice… wihan on here has offered up some great help, but i figure that the more sources, the better…

i’m sure many of you are doing this, but i am still learning, so please be patient… my goal is to use an electronic drumset and sound module to record midi events… i have a 16 pad midi controller that i’ve been using, and it is great for what it is, but i prefer to have my arms flailing about…

at my disposal, i have fruity loops 5 fruity loops edition, ntrack 4, and adobe audition 1.5… the ultimate goal is to sit and play a drum part, then be able to export audio from the sound module into a separate track for each input/drum/trigger… i need to be able to trigger many different pads at once… i’ve been told that in order to do this, i will need a sound module that has midi in and out, as well as software to turn the midi events into audio…

i have read a good bit on the subject, but am still confused about how to get this to work… i even visited guitar center today, and am a bit more educated, but no one there had ever triggered like this using a drum set… however, they assured me it was possible…

any advice would be great…


MIDI - most modules will have MIDI I/O. But the output from MIDI is a separate entity from the audio. Neither the twain will meet.

So a module will have at least a stereo output, and at least one MIDI in and one MIDI out. At this point, software is not required. The drum triggers go into the module and you have a choice of tapping from the audio or from the MIDI out. It’s all inside the module…nothing else externally is needed. The audio outs are usually used for some type of monitoring system and main PA system. But they can be used to record by connecting them to the input of your soundcard.

The last thing I want to address is the intent to separate each piece of the drum kit into a different track. As far as I have seen, this can’t be done with the setup thus explained. There is a thread that deals with separating a MIDI drum track, using software, after the drum track has been created as a MIDI file. In other words, you’ll have the module connected to your PC via MIDI, record yourself playing, save and then using the software, (DOS format) then separate each item of the kit into separate tracks. Once this is done, you can convert these tracks to audio with N-track.

To do this via audio, I don’t know. The DDrum D-drum4brain lists as having 6 line level outputs, but it doesn’t say if these can be dedicated to a specific item in a drum kit (ie snare = line 1, hitHat = line 2 etc). It is expensive too, about the price of an average ElecDrum kit.

I just looked at Yamaha’s TD 12S and it had only 4 audio outputs (2 stereo) and this is on sale for $3700.00!!!

Egads, I am hoping someone will follow me and blow this info out of the water.

707 You mean Roland td12 ?

I would vouch for the TD-6s kit.

It’s got 2 chokeable (and multizone) cymbals, multi zone pads,
that nice Hihat controller and a rimshot able meshhead snare.

The hihat can give you a sound that leaves something to be desired, but it does indeed sound better in the mix. It also depends on what type of hihat and kit you choose in the brain. Some sounds aweful, and some awesome…

I also found that if I record the kit as audio without the effects of the TD-6 on, and then add some (of the right type) reverb in the mix to that drumtrack, it sounds way better.

If you want to record midi, you can record into any program that can do it. N-Track would do as well, although I sometimes have an issue with timing.
Playing it back, you can use the TD-6’s built in sounds via midi in (on the td6). You can (if you want to) use softsynths to make the sounds, but I would do that only if I had samples that sound better than the TD6.

If you want to go multitrack recording on the drums (every sound on a different channel) that’s another story.

You 1st have to record the midi drum file, and then you have to split it to different channels.
Mididrum on this page might help

Then you need to get the different drumchannels recorded (or rendered) as audio.

Two options :
1: Use the TD6 (or external midi drum brain)'s sounds (time consuming)
- Solo the track you want
- Hit record and record on the input where the brain is connected
- Solo the second drum channel
- record it
- continue 'till you have all of 'em

2: Using softsynths or samples (even more time consuming)
- Import the midi file / channels
- set up SFZ (or your sample player of choice) as a VSTi on every channel
- render (mixdown) (Or maybe freeze in 4 ?)

Both of these might get you into some timing trouble. What I’ve done to overcome this is to set a midi event in the piano roll over all the channels to sound a note before anything starts.
That way I have a signal on every channel that I can use to line the tracks up.

After doing it this way for a while I decided to record the TD6 straight into N-Track using only stereo output.
Not as much control, but after I fiddled for a while to get the balances right, it really sounds good.

I am very happy with the setup.
I’ve played the td-8 over the weekend, and apart from the better feel of having all mesh heads, I must say that I like the TD-6’s sounds better. It might have something to do with the td8 being en of line and being replaced by the td12, and the td-6 having been released recently.
The td-6 (full kit) is worth the money IMHO.
If I had to do the whole midi drum build thing again ?
I would buy the TD-3 kit, and just spend the extra money to buy a mesh head, use that as snare and move the snare pad to be the second tom (TD3 only has 2 toms as a kit).
If I had more money I would buy the TD-6 kit without a question.

Am I helping ?

Cheers !



I went with the TD6 module, but got these heads… http://www.pintechworld.com/drumsets/drumset.cfm?SetID=11

hey, thanks!.. clark, how are you using your set to record?.. are you using midi, or just audio out?..


usually midi, cuz i suck as a drummer. Then I tweak the midi in Nuendo and use NSkit 7 soundfonts.

if my buddy the drummer is over, then I just take the stereo out to audio

cool… the midi is what i am interested in… does each pad/trigger produce it’s own midi events?.. or are they all combined into one with each pad a different note?..

it’s the latter. all events combined into one midi track

so, then you import the midi file into your sequencer (nuendo), and are able to edit it there, right?.. and if looking at a piano roll, i assume that the snare is one note/pitch while the kick is another?.. meaning that each different trigger/pad appears as it’s own note on the piano roll?..

if that’s the case, then it would be possible to cut each note and place as events into its own track… i’m speaking only from experience using fruity loops… do you think nuendo is a better tool?..

thanks for your help, i’m still learning this stuff…


I use Nuendo/Cubase for this because it has a DRUM editor for midi. So, instead of piano roll, it says… acoustic snare. Super easy to move the notes around, put new ones in and change velocity that way…

I have never used FL, so I can’t compare. I think FL should do almost the same things…

Quote (clark_griswold @ June 15 2005,12:49)
it’s the latter. all events combined into one midi track

I have an electronic drumset with the alesis DM5 brain. I’ve played around with midi a bit. Yes it’s correct that it creates one midi track with each separate drum or cymbal on a different line. But you should be aware that there does exist a free dos utility that will separate each line into a separate track if you want. I tried it out once and haven’t gotten to really use it but I know it works. This will enable you to apply different effects for each part of the set.

it’s on this page and it’s called mididrum - enjoy
midi utilities

wow, very cool… while asking questions at the music store yesterday, i actually came across a “cubase guru” that was suggesting cubase to do these things… is nuendo a version of cubase, or a completely independent product?.. i just need to know what i’m looking for… also, can you export each individual part to it’s own audio track?..

thanks for suggesting the td-6, it looks really attractive… as for FL, i can’t see how i can get it to recognize more than one trigger at a time… i already have a 16 pad trigger, and have to program each drum piece independently… which is certainly not the most fun…


you know, the nuendo stuff sounds strikingly familiar to the new FPC stuff in fruity loops… now i am wondering if it’s actually the same thing… anyone know?..


issac, you asked "can you export each individual part to it’s own audio track?.."

YES YES YES. that’s what this simple dos utility does. It takes about 2 minutes to understand how to use the utility and then you just run the command line each time you need to split the track.

let me just clarify. This utility creates separate MIDI tracks (not audio tracks). You need to then change the midi tracks to audio tracks within NTrack. I haven’t played around with midi enough to remember how, and it’s been a few months, but I know you must do this if you want to mixdown the song and there’s a command in NTrack to do this.

thanks, soul!.. sorry if i annoyed with so many questions… i will definitely be checking out this tonight!!..

wiham suggested this to me earlier as well, and i looked at the site, but there are dozens of utilities there…


don’t apologize. this is how all of us learned.

don’t be overwhelmed by all the utilities. all you need is that one - and it’s free.

I would check it out before paying for something else. Unless of course you have other things about those programs you’re looking for besides splitting the track.

guys, thanks for your help in this matter!.. over the weekend, i purchased a td6v… thus far, i think it’s great… last night, i finally connected the set to my daw and discovered how easy it really is to accomplish what i wanted… i’m an ignorant and inpatient s.o.b… :)

i discovered that the mididrum utility would not work with my midi files… not sure why, but doesn’t really matter at this point…

i simply added a new blank midi track in n-track, set it to channel 10, and hit record… i sat down at the set and played a few bars then stopped n-track recording… voila! a midi drum track… didn’t realize it would be this simple…

as for separation of the pieces, i discovered two methods that are both really simple… one is to create a new blank midi track for each piece that will be recorded… when finished, just click the name of the pieces in the piano roll and cut all but the one you want in that track… the other is similar, but by creating the new midi tracks after recording…

it would be great if n-track had a mixer specifically for this within the midi track itself, but i guess the manual method is easy enough…


Isaac, Sonar has a CAL routine built in to “split” MIDI files. I have not tried it myself… (don’t own Sonar) but it’s my understanding it works extremely well. You record your MIDI drums and run the CAL routine and tell it where you want each instrument/channel placed.


PS CAL is an acronym for “Cakewalk Application Language”. CAUTION: It may be related to HAL who as we know likes to lock people out of their spaceships. Don’t tempt CAL with space travel!

sadly, i would have to purchase sonar, though… something i’d prefer to avoid… i was very close to buying adobe audition last week, but thankfully decided to hold off… it seems that the <$100 for n-track offers more features that i use than some of these other tools… i am fairly certain that audition doesn’t even allow for midi recording, which is something i need at the moment… i had high hopes for the mididrum utility, but i can’t get it to work right now… maybe i’ll contact the author…