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Drum Replacement In Pro Tools

Drum Replacement In Pro Tools

Whether building a beat from scratch using samples or using a drum machine to re-enforce recordings, learning how to use samples in Pro Tools can be an asset to your Productions and Mixes. Many plugins are available that allow you to easily replace drum sounds. We'll take a look at one plugin in particular, Drum Replacer, but  also teach you how to do it the "old fashioned way": by hand.

Plugins like Drumagog, Steven Slate Trigger, Drum Replacer, and the like, are all great plugins that will help us easily layer in samples to our drum recordings. When I started making records everyone was using Drumagog but nowadays there are a lot of options for many different applications. Do some research and figure out which one is right for you. Recently, I’ve been using Drum Replacer by UVI. It’s cheap, simple, and efficient. All drum replacement plugins work similarly, so when I run through this plugin it should be similar to the plugin you already have or one you’ll use in the future.

Drum Replacer Plug in

Let’s take a look at this drum recording I did the other day. I feel like it could use a snare sample to help push the snare more in front of all the cymbal information. In Pro Tools, duplicate the track of whatever you want to sample replace. In my case, I’m going to take my snare drum, make a duplicate and put the Drum Replacer plugin on the new track.

Duplicate Snare Drum

Taking a look at the UI of this plugin. We can see on the right hand side there's a Files tab that allows us to browse our drives for the sample we want to use. Don’t have any samples? Google ‘Free Drum Sample Pack’. Plug your record player into your interface and record some drums from a record you love. There are tons of resources for finding samples to add to your music. They also can become a fun trading card between you and your music friends. Trade your library with theirs and double your arsenal of sounds to choose from. Just keep them organized.

Files Tab drum plug in

Once we find a sample we like, we can drag and drop onto Track 1. In Drum Replacer, we have up to 8 tracks that we can drop samples onto. We can use this to quickly hear how different samples sound in our drum recording, or we can use this to blend multiple samples together. This is where you can be creative. Use the volume fader on each track to blend different samples together to create something unique. Features that are important to learn in all trigger Plugins are Threshold and Sample Trim. The threshold allows us to adjust what is triggering the plugin to play the sample. Lower this all the way down and you’ll get a snare hit on everything the plugin hears from our audio clip. If you're into blast beats, maybe this is cool for you. Raise the threshold all the way up and you won't hear anything.

sample track one drum

Adjust the threshold so you hear the sample hit when the snare hits in your recording. Simple.
Sample trim is exactly what it sounds like. Every sample we bring in is going to be different. We don’t know how close the transient is to the beginning of our sample clip. If the sample has some air in the beginning then all of our snares will be late.

sample trim drum plug in

Adjust the sample trim to get the trigger to line right up to where the transient is. This will ensure
the sample we're adding will line right up to the snare that was played live.

Drum Replacer Sample Trim

Loading samples into a plugin and playing around is simple and effective. It can help bolster our kick drums and snares and add a new flavor to the whole performance. Let's dive into layering samples by hand. This is a little more time consuming and labor intensive, but it's free. You can also employ this technique to build drum beats by hand by laying different samples on the grid.

Sticking with our same drum performance, let's layer a snare in by hand. Use Shift+Command+I to import audio, or go up to the File Menu and click, ‘Import Audio’. Browse your samples and find the sample that's right for you. I'm going to use the same snare I used before. Click ‘Copy’ to copy our audio file into our Pro Tools session, and create a new track.

layer in drum sample

Line this track up right underneath the track you're replacing. Zoom into your audio clip and
make sure the clip starts right at the transient and that the end of the clip has enough time for a natural decay.

Create some fades, and hit Command+C to copy. Using Tab to Transient, we can tab to each
snare transient on our snare track. Ensure that Tab to Transient is turned on. We can use Command+Option+Tab to cycle it on and off or click the button in the top left hand corner of our screen.

fade in transient drum sample

Use the ‘P’ and ‘;’ keys on your keyboard to move quickly up and down between tracks. Tab to each snare transient on our snare track using ‘tab’, hit ‘;’ to go down to our sample track, hit ‘V’ to paste, and ‘P’ to move back up and repeat. Do this to your whole drum performance and you will have a perfectly lined up Snare Sample track.

perfectly lined up drum sample

Author: Carter Jahn
ProMedia Training, LLC



Carter Jahn
Carter JahnProducer / Audio Engineer
Grammy Winner
Carter Jahn is a Grammy Award Winning Producer and Audio/ Mixing Engineer in Los Angeles, CA. He won a Grammy Award for his Engineering work on The War on Drugs album, ‘A Deeper Understanding’. With years of studio experience, Carter has worked alongside many top Engineers and Producers such as: Shawn Everett, Chris Walla, Francois Tetaz, Brent Kutzle, Damian Taylor, Tommy English and more. Carter also owns a commercial recording studio, "Cherry Studios" in North Hollywood where he produces, records and mixes major label and independent artists.

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