Drum Samples Volume And Velocity
by Brenda Nadic
The easiest mixing stage to apply when sequencing and organizing drum samples is the volume dynamic. Many producers like to do this on the fly, immediately have done the drum channels or after the beat is made entirely. Because it is such an easy process, most big-time producers factor this in as early as possible to get it out of the way and make a path for other samples and instruments to occupy certain sonic space.
Adjusting the volume is possible in multiple places in most major sequencers and on keyboard workstations. For instance, Propellerheads' Reason allows you to adjust volume on each bus for each drum sample, on the Redrum drum console and also in the main sequencer mixer, making it easy to make major and minor changes on the fly. This certainly helps the creative process as you can be altering this whenever you feel like it at a moment's notice.
On the most important mixing 'rules' considering volume is that if the instrument or drum sample is so quiet that it really cannot be heard with the other instruments, it should probably go, because you're just filling the sonic space with garbage that could be used for instruments that actually contribute to the mix. This does make sense, and any mixing engineer will offer a similar viewpoint, so ensure that if you keep lowering decibels and realize that something is not identifiable in a complete mix, it adds nothing and could actually be lowering the value of your instrument selection.
You can expect lowering something six decibels will halve its volume, and increasing by the same amount actually doubles the volume of an instrument or drum sample. When mixing hi-hats, it is a good thing to make it slightly lower than you think as you're mixing, because humans have a tendency to easily distinguish frequencies that are around the range of the hi-hat.
Velocity is different from volume as it pertains to drum samples, because it's based on a note by note dynamic. One note could have a different velocity from the next, meaning they will be heard in different volumes and at times with completely different sounds if your drum samples were multi-sampled.
Adjusting the volume should be a task you pay close attention to. Never recklessly increase the volume of parts you would like to sound louder. It is common practice to focus mainly on lowering the volume of things you do not want so loud. This will minimize distortion and keep your mix nice and smooth, so that each drum sample will stand out on its own and add its flavor to the mix and song as a whole.
This music article was written for my drum samples, the number 1 site for hip hop drum samples.
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