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Customizing the Drum Kit

When recording a live drummer in a studio, the engineer often positions microphones on each drum. This allows control over the recorded sound of each drum, so he can individually equalize or compress the sound of each kit piece. The producer may also want the drummer to try different kicks or snares, or to experiment with hitting the cymbals softer before he begins recording.

In Logic, when using Drummer, the sounds of each drum are already recorded. However, you can still use several tools to customize the drum kit and adjust the sound of each drum.

Adjusting the Drum Levels Using Smart Controls

Smart Controls are a set of knobs and switches that are premapped to the most important parameters of the plug-ins on the channel strip of the selected track. You will study Smart Controls in more detail in Lesson 5.

In this exercise, you will use Smart Controls to quickly adjust the levels and tones of different drums. Then you’ll open Drum Kit Designer to swap one snare for another and fine-tune the crash cymbal sound.

  1. In the control bar, click the Smart Controls button (or press B).

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    The Smart Controls pane opens at the bottom of the main window, replacing the Drummer Editor. It is divided into three sections: Mix, Compression, and Effects.

    In the Mix section, six knobs allow you to balance the levels of the drums. To the right of each knob, a button lets you mute the corresponding drum or group of drums.

  2. Position the playhead before the first chorus and start playback.
  3. Turn the cymbals down a bit by dragging the Cymbals knob.

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    Even with the Amount knob turned all the way down in the Compression section, the compressor is still slightly processing the drum sound. Let’s turn it off.

  4. In the Compression section, click the On button.

    On the left channel strip in the inspector, the Compressor plug-in is dimmed, indicating that it is turned off.

  5. In the Effects section, drag the Tone knob up.

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    As you drag up the knob, the drums’ sound changes timbre and becomes brighter. On the left channel strip in the inspector, the EQ curve on the channel strip’s EQ display reflects the changes made to the Channel EQ plug-in.

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  6. Drag up the Room knob.

    As you drag up the knob, you will start hearing the subtle reverberation of a drum booth. In the inspector, you can see the Bus 1 Send knob move along with the Tone knob.

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  7. In the control bar, click the Editors button (or press E) to open the Drummer Editor.

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You have adjusted the levels and timbres of the drums, and you’re now ready to fine-tune the sound of the individual drum kit pieces.

Customizing the Kit with Drum Kit Designer

Drum Kit Designer is the software instrument plug-in that plays drum samples triggered by Drummer. It allows you to customize the drum kit by choosing from a collection of drums and cymbals and tuning and dampening them.

  1. At the bottom of the character card, click East Bay Kit to open Drum Kit Designer.

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  2. In Drum Kit Designer, click the snare.

    You can hear the snare sample. The snare stays lit, and the rest of the drum kit is in shadow. To the left, a Snares panel contains your choice of three snare drums, and to the right, an Edit panel includes three setting knobs.

    The left panel shows only a limited selection of snares. To gain access to the entire collection of drum samples included with Logic Pro X, you need to choose a Producer Kit in the Library.

  3. In the control bar, click the Library button (or press Y).

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    To the left of the inspector, the Library opens, listing patches for the selected track. The current patch, East Bay, is selected.

  4. In the Library, select Producer Kits, and then select East Bay+.

    The Drum Kit Designer window is reset.

    The East Bay+ kit sounds the same as East Bay but allows a wide array of options to customize the drum kit and its mix.

  5. Click the Library button (or press Y) to close the Library window.
  6. In Drum Kit Designer, click the snare.

    This time the left pane displays a choice of 15 snare drums (use your mouse to scroll down the list). The current snare, Black Brass, is selected.

  7. Click another snare, and then click the Info button next to it.

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    A description of the selected snare opens.

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    Continue previewing different snares, and try listening to a verse or a chorus to hear your customized drum kit in action.

  8. At the top of the left pane, click the Bell Brass snare.
  9. In Drum Kit Designer, click the kick drum.

    The info pop-up window updates to show you information on the selected kick drum.

    Listen to the kick drum. This kick is the right choice for your song, but it has a long resonance. Typically, the faster the tempo of the song, the less resonance you want on the kick; otherwise, low frequencies build up and could become a problem during the mix. You may have seen drummers stuff an old blanket in their kick drum to dampen them. In Drum Kit Designer, you only have to raise the dampening level.

  10. In the right pane, drag the Dampen knob up to about 75%, and click the kick to listen to it.

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    The kick’s resonance is shortened.

    You will now tune the toms, which are mainly used in the bridge section.

  11. In the workspace, select the Bridge region.
  12. In the Drummer Editor, click the Play button and mute the kick.

    You can hear only the low and mid toms.

  13. In Drum Kit Designer, click one of the toms.

    The Edit panel opens with four tabs: All (for adjusting settings of all three toms in the kit together); and Low, Mid, and High (for adjusting settings of each individual tom).

  14. Click the Mid tab and raise the Tune knob to around +155 cent.

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    You can hear the mid tom being pitched up as Kyle continues repeating the first half of the bridge.

    If you want, feel free to continue exploring Drum Kit Designer and adjusting the sound of the hi-hat, ride, and crash cymbals.

  15. Stop playback and close the Drum Kit Designer window.

You have exchanged the snare for another one that sounds a little clearer, dampened the kick drum to tame its resonance, and tuned the mid tom to pitch it a bit higher. You have now fully customized both the drum performance and the drum kit.

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