Show 137 – Programming Rock Drums + DIY Diffusors and more

This week Jon explains how he programs MIDI drums and how to humanize them. Justin Newton sent a segment in on how he built his home studio acoustic absorption and QRD/BBC style diffusion.

Our guest this week is Jason Miller.

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Jason Miller
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Justin’s DIY Acoustic treatment build blogpost

17 thoughts on “Show 137 – Programming Rock Drums + DIY Diffusors and more

  1. Thanks for the input on the shotgun mics.

    In reference to the rockwool stuff. I’ve been looking at materials for building basstraps and panels. And I’ve pretty much settled on the Roxul Rockboard 60. It’s rigid like like 703, but less expensive. Cost a little more than the standard rockwool, but can be easier to work with. Check out the comparisons here.–Selecting-the-Right-Acoustic-Material–ac.html

    Feel free to delete if that sight poses some conflict of interest for you.

  2. @Mike’s question from #136, I have to jump in about the evaluation of Mackie monitors. I have a pair of MR5 (not the new MKii); and I think they’re a real value. They perform above their price (think Apex 460 or AT4033).

    They’re small (5.25″ woofer) so don’t expect the world from them; but they have the most solid low end compared to their peers: Tannoy 501, M-Audio BX5a, KRK (barf!). They have a lot of connectivity on the back; and they’re adjustable. You can notch/bump the top and the bottom depending on you room and your material.

    Sure there are better monitors out there, but at that price point ($150 each) they just don’t sound hyped.

    But if you don’t the MR5s, get the Tannoy 501As, and add the optional sub.

    Good luck with your search.



  3. Great segment on drum programming. Yep, totally agree. Drum programming can be time consuming but well worth it. A couple of months ago I wrote about this topic on my blog and pretty much echoes what John has said ( ).

    I use EZDrummer and always have the humanize button activated but I don’t stop there. I usually go into the MIDI editor and do a bit more tweaks.

    One tip for non-drummers… at least borrow a “How To Play Drums” DVD at your local library to learn a few basics. I recommend “Snare Drum Basics” (I forgot the publisher). I have come to like the paradiddle and being able to mimic it on EZD is pretty darn neat.

  4. On Monitors.

    I have heard various. For my studio I have KRK Rokit6.. Bought them early on in the studio life and love them but I agree they are not perfect and I suggest no monitors are. But I “understand” them and as Ryan said once you learn the monitors it and translate them to the real world it is over to you. You can do a great job and almost any monitor once you understand them.

    Personally I am hoping to upgrade to DynAudio BM6A MkII (or the 8″ models) I have heard these at a buddies studio and totally love the sound – they have depth and clarity. But they are not that cheap so might not be within your budget.

    Chatting with a mate at a well known international pro studio they built a new studio about 6 months or so ago and they bought DynAudio’s after a lot of evaluation. Why because they said they they felt that THEY could translate them to great music. They also said the quality is great.

    Just get the best monitors that YOU can afford; that YOU like the sound of; and that YOU can translate to the sound YOU want.. That is my 2Cents..

  5. On Programming Drums.
    I think using “programmed” drums can work (or shall I say, work better) if you then add a few actual human played additions. For example adding a real human played cowbell, tambourine, shaker or even playing just one of the cymbals parts on top can bring in that human factor and partially mask the midi issues.


  6. Best Comment of the show from Jason..
    “So woody gives me a headache..”
    Hmm I have met women that have said similar to me regarding a woody and having a headache 🙂

  7. I’ve spent several driving trips and other times catching up on old shows. What a resource! I didn’t start at the beginning (started around show #90 or so.) I’m not all the way caught up, yet. Still about 6 shows behind.

    ANYWAY, on one of your shows a few months back you mentioned convolution reverb impulse sources. You said they could be any .wav file. That was a revolution to me. I had thought it was some magic space sampling thing. Now I know I can try different .wav files. I also figured out I can make my own impulses of my favorite spaces.

    I tried this in the church where I work as a musician. I set up two SM-81 mics at an XY pointing toward the center of the room. I recorded my hand clap and resulting natural space reverb. I opened that as my impulse file in REAPER ReaVerb (Great tool, by the way.) It was amazing. It sounds like I’m singing in my church! Very cool.

    It’s not perfect, though. Questions arose in my mind.

    – mic placement. How does one find the optimal spot?
    – impulse source. Hand clap is easy, but not clean? What would be best? Gun shot? (not practical) Slap stick?
    – location of source sound to the mic. I clapped 6″ behind the XY setup, but should it be further away? closer? in front?
    – Sample/bit rate. I used 48kHz/16 bit. (Available on a convenient device.) Would a higher rate be beneficial?
    – Oh, and what is Deconvolve?

    Plenty of questions. I certainly don’t expect you to cover it all on your show, but maybe someone could point me to a resource. Google keeps pointing me to already recorded impulses. I want to do my own. I have plenty of spaces I’d love to capture.

    Keep up the great show. I’ll catch up soon.

  8. @DonB – Hey thanks for bringing this up. I always wondered how I can record impulses and make my own Convolution Reverb. I hope HRS does some sort of mini tutorial on this topic.

  9. Thanks heaps John for your review on reaper, after hearing your thoughts, I gave it a go and it was love at first mix. I feel like I’m twice as fast with reaper after only a month then I was after 4 years of Pro Tools.
    Also, the discussion on MIDI drums has been a big help for a project I’m currently working on.

    I’d really love to hear you guys do some segments going into some depth on recording specific genres of music and working the elements of the mix in as a whole. I’m sure there’s lots of people who would love for John to do a segment on metal. I get the feeling that he has some very strong opinions on the subject but keeps them somewhat restrained.

  10. Hi folks !
    Very nice segment on panels. I will try building some. Really great segment on midi drums. To humanize a hihat you can also inssert a LFO to modulate volume or pitch very suddle. Another good trick is to layer a small loop of shakers or whatever, self recorded or out of a library. You then add the human touch and some kind of room. Depending on the genre ghost notes are also nice.
    At last I recommend a segment of MIDI drums by Dave Chick on Insidehomerecording in the archive.
    Thats it.
    Thanks for this outstanding podcast ! ‘love the format !

  11. Great show guys! 3 things I have to say today (I hope this isn’t overdoing it)-
    1. Do you guys realize that Show 55 with Joe Gilder (of HSC) only plays to a little bit past 1 minute? Of course that could be a problem with my computer, but I have no trouble with other shows.
    2. Jon- Any tips on programming buildups? Mine sometimes tend to sound robotic/fake.
    3. Tips on recording Electric Pianos? Di, miced through an amp, both?

    Thanks guys, love the show! Looking forward to (hopefully) getting rapid fire back next week!

  12. Superb show guys.

    As a hiphophead it was interesting to see how Jon program drums for other genre’s, seeing as the process is very different and i was actually surprised that you didn’t used drum pads, since that “human feel” is the reason why most of hiphop guys i know use them instead of a mouse.

    That second segment was really interesting as well, if the pictures on the site is update studio c at blackbird isn’t covered in fabric, but it does look damn awesome.

    Great show once again.

  13. After your show on room treatment a while back, we ran some test tones in our mix room and found huge problems. We went with rockwool because that was all that was available. Room sound was night and day afterwards.
    By the way, we are useing a pair of JBL L100’s for one of our monitors and I think they sound very clear and detailed. Any thoughts?

  14. Hey guys, greetings from Germany! I´m a long time listener first time writer and donater. Hope you recieved the donation via paypal!
    Your tips and tricks helped me a lot for recording/mixing my progressive rock band and developing a better sound over the time. I loved Jon´s Reaper segment, as I moved from Cubase SX to Reaper, two years ago and never had to complain. Still missing Jesse, any chance he will come back?

    Keep up your great work and never forget: Europe is just a download away;-)


    Eric Trauzettel (Just say T. might be too hard to pronounce)

  15. Jon, you and others have mentioned that HS-50’s are lacking in low end. If money wasn’t an issue (yes, I’m in pipedream land), would you generally recommend an 8″ monitor over a smaller one? And, how would you compare an 8″ verses a smaller version, if the smaller one was supported by a sub? Sorry, I know there are many variables, but just wondering. Thanks.

  16. Mark Knopfler’s studio with the two old Abbey Road consoles is British Grove, he has the REDD and the TG set up as sidecars with the main desk in that room being a Neve 88R, while Studio 2 has an API Legacy. It’s a beautiful studio, but it most definitely is not his “home” studio. It’s a fully operational Death Star/commercial facility.

    Yeh, alright, this is an old show. But I’m still catching up and boy do you guys talk slow! I listen to the show on 1.5x and have to jump onto my iPhone to slow it back down whenever you do audio examples. Anyway, I’m nearly there, 11 episodes still to catch up on.

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