You’ve tweaked and tweaked, but nothing seems to be working. All the mixing in the world just can’t make a bad drum sample sound good. Whether you’ve recorded it yourself or whether someone else has recorded it, it just might not sound good.
At this point, you are most likely going to have to look into sample replacement.
Replacing Drum Sounds is Common
You might be thinking “I don’t want to replace my drums because that means that I’m not a very good mixer to begin with.”
That’s a very untrue statement. Take a deep breath, you aren’t committing any crimes here (hopefully :P). Although leaving TERRIBLE drum sounds in your mix could very well be a crime.
It’s common for even the best mix engineers to replace drum samples in the songs they are working on. We aren’t magicians; we can only do so much. At some point, the sounds are just bad and will have to be replaced.
A Better Way to Look at It
A much better way to think about replacing the drum kit sounds in your mixes is that you are doing everyone a favor. Your client is probably paying you for a reason – to use your ears. So use them!
Also, think about the listener and what is going to be a better experience for them when they eventually hear the song? Replacing drums are not just about having a sonically more pleasing sound in the mix; it’s also just as much about the emotion that you are conveying the user experience.
Generally speaking, though, better sample selection usually equates to a better user experience. That’s my rule of thumb anyway.
Where to Get Great Sounds?
You can find great sounds all over the place to be honest. A lot of producers will sample their sounds from vinyl as well as trade sounds back and forth. It’s best just to use your ears and determine what you like the best. You can build your high-quality sample library up over time.
As for commercial libraries, I like the Modern Drum Samples library right now. They have a variety of different drum machine sounds as well as live played sounds. They all compliment each other extremely well. I’m getting a lot of use from their Hip Hop Drums Live collection. Awesome stuff!
At one point, I was big into Vengeance Collections because I was doing a lot of experimental EDM house type music so I used their sounds on everything. I personally used their Trance Sensation pack quite a lot. They’re also great because they have a lot of sound fx that are super quick and easy to throw into your productions. Immediate results! Check out their Facebook page as well, they post some cool stuff.
Where to Go From Here?
Those sample companies I laid out are just starting points. If you only used those two companies, then you would be creating some amazing sounding productions, you’re drums would kick ass, and they would punch through the speakers.
Ultimately you should just use your ears to determine what you believe to be the best for your work.
But before I got, watch this video below on sample replacement, it might help you get a strong hold on your mixes when you want to change the sounds.
Until next time.