Altering the timbre of slate Digital Trigger Drum Replacer Games drum kit is one of the most dramatic changes you can make during a mix. But why resort to such a radical approach? After all, in these pages we regularly preach the benefits of getting everything right at the recording stage.
Sometimes, of course, it’s because you don’t have control over the recording, and simply have to make the best of what you’re given — a scenario that will be familiar to anyone who reads our regular Mix Rescue feature! Even when you’re managing the session, though, you might not have the opportunity to capture everything quite as you’d like to. The use varies from genre to genre. Typically, in genres such as indie or soul, much of the feel of the performance is likely to come from nuances in the way the drums have been hit — so you can use drum replacement in those genres, but your result will usually need to be more natural and less obtrusive, and to take much more account of the dynamics of the performance, than in ‘harder’ styles.
It’s not always about compensating for imperfections, though. Triggering is crucially important in rock and metal production, for instance, where the feel of a track will often rely on a sense of consistency between one strike and the next. Sixteenths played by a real drummer on the bass drum at 240bpm will inevitably suffer from a dulled attack, but with total sample replacement each bass drum strike can be as solid as the last. Andy Sneap suggests that, in hard rock and heavy metal, sample replacement “is the only way to get the clarity required in the drums to cut through the wall of guitar that is expected these days. If you’re interested, Andy’s use of both sample replacement and augmentation, and the wall of guitars that he has become renowned for, can be heard on Testament’s 2008 album, The Formation Of Damnation. If using replacement as a creative rather than a corrective technique, the results can be as obvious as you like.