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The easiest way to record your E-kit at home!

No longer do you have to make your way to a professional studio to record drums, however, recording drums at home comes with its own host of issues and difficulties. Not to mention the miles of cables and endless microphones needed to get started. E-kits make it easier than ever to take what you have been practising and record it straight onto your computer at home. 

An obvious advantage to recording electronic drums at home is volume, the quiet nature of electronic drums means you can spend hours gunning for the best take, without disturbing the neighbours. The other advantage is how your E-kit producers sound, the sound of the E-kit is produced within the drum module and is not influenced by the size of the room used or the acoustic treatment or lack thereof. 

Though there is no alternative for the feel and experience of playing an acoustic kit an E-kit offers an incredibly convenient and easy way to record demos, input your Ideas and create content with very little extra equipment needed. 

Here, we will be taking a look at the two most common ways to record your E-kit, both methods use the same equipment but with very different methods. 

Equipment needed 

Before we get onto the specific steps associated with both of the simplest ways of recording electronic drums, there are 4 things that you will need for both methods. 

  1. A computer
  2. A DAW (Digital Audio Workstation)
  3. An E-kit (obviously)
  4. A USB cable (USB A-B)

Excuse me what’s a DAW?

A DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) is software that allows you to record, mix, edit and export audio. They also often have built-in ‘virtual instruments’ (or VST’s) that allow you to create music using a wide variety of sounds on your computer. 

There are some really high-quality free DAW’s including Garageband for apple computers, Reaper or Audacity these are fantastic for getting started with recording at home. There is higher quality software with more features including, Logic Pro, Pro Tools and Ableton Live. 

Recording technique 1 – Recording audio directly from your E-kit to the computer via USB. 

This is definitely the easier of the two techniques as here, we are utilising the sounds created by the drum module. Usually, on the back of your module, you will find a USB output. This means with just a USB cable you can connect the E-kit to your computer and DAW with the Module acting as the audio interface. 

Instructions. 

STEP 1 – Boot up your laptop or desktop computer

STEP 2 – Connect your electronic drum kit to your computer via USB cable

STEP 3 – Install any necessary drivers for your computer to recognize your drum kit. (You may have to visit the manufacturer website if this does not happen automatically)

STEP 4 – Open your DAW! (we learnt what that was earlier)

STEP 5 – Follow your DAW’s instructions for recording audio. 

1. Create a new audio track (Add Track or a + button)

2. When you select the input of your track, select the name of your electronic drum kit.

3. Play your E-kit to make sure there is a signal coming through to your DAW.

4. Make sure the track is prepared for recording by pressing the red button normally labelled R. 

5. Press record. 

6. Record the best drum grooves anyone has ever heard in their life. 

Recording technique 2 – Recording Drums using your E-kit connecting to your Computer via MIDI

Recording your E-kit using midi is quite different from just recording the audio directly from your drum Module. MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) is a language that computers use to translate the digital information the pads from your drums create when hit. 

Recording with MIDI into your DAW allows you to use a drum kit VST (Virtual Studio Technology). This is normally a sample library with hundreds of sounds that can be used alongside your drumkit and played in real-time. In this case, your computer and DAW basically act as the Drum Module. 

Using VST’s also brings lots of flexibility allowing you to use the VST’s included with your DAW as well as external and 3rd party VST’s. 

Instructions

Step 1. Turn on your computer

Step 2. Connect your drum kit to your computer via MIDI using a USB cable, However, if your E-kit does not have a USB port you can use a MIDI to USB converter. 

Step 3. Open your DAW or stand-alone drum VST If you are using a DAW, create a new ‘Instrument MIDI track’ and select your preferred kit in the instruments.

Step 4. Follow your DAW or software instructions for mapping the drum pads to the MIDI channels/instruments correctly. Most of the time this will work automatically however sometimes you will have to do this manually. 

Step 5. Press the record button. 

Step 6. Rip a huge drum solo even Jorn Bonham would be proud of!

Recording MIDI and audio will look slightly different with audio showing the classic looking sound waves and MIDI showing strange blocks you might not have seen before. This is because when you are recording midi you are basically recording a set of instructions to give to the virtual instrument which in turn creates the sound you hear.

Recording MIDI allows for much more flexibility in post-production making quantising (making this more in time) and changing the sound much easier and quicker to do!

This concludes The easiest way to record your E-kit at home! Be sure to check back soon for more exciting articles in the Millenium Drums magazine, including New Products, Discover articles, Education, and Support!