If you make beats in Logic, but haven’t used Drum Machine Designer (DMD) you’re really missing out on something excellent. It’s as if Apple went down a beat producers laundry list of requirements: Easily swap out a sound in the kit?—check. Easily process each drum with effects?—check. Easily group drums like snares, hats and toms for group processing?—check. Easily alter a specific sound’s pitch, envelope, EQ, and more?—yep.
If you have used DMD then you’ll also know that the kits supplied by Apple are fantastic… but there’s not enough of them! In this article I’ll show you how to build upon Logic’s DMD offerings with your own collection of one-shot drums. If you primarily use Logic’s virtual Drummer tracks these kits can easily be used in them, and respond to all the changes you make in the Drummer Editor window.
Find Your Samples/One Shot Drums
First things first. Find your samples through sites like Zenhiser, BeatPort Sounds, etc. There are many of them. Nearly every genre of electronic music should cover you through these sites, and there are others out there that sell acoustic one-shots too. More importantly, find the ones you like. Go through each pack you buy and label/mark/copy and move each one into labeled folders. This can be a long and tedious task, but you’ll thank yourself later. Also, decide clearly on a location for your samples… if the location changes, then DMD might not be able to load your samples in a new or existing project.
There’s a cool stand-alone application for sample/one-shot drum organizing calledAudioFinder.
Open Drum Machine Designer Empty Kit
There’s a single new preset in Drum Machine Designer’s list of kits called “Empty Kit” for a reason. It let’s you create a blank DMD kit for dragging in all your own sampled sounds/one-shot drums. Open Drum Machine Designer directly from the channel itself or from the Library under the “Electronic Drum Kit” Library folder. If you normally load an instrument automatically when creating a new track, click on the right side corner of the one that’s there already to replace it. Scroll down the list and choose Drum Machine Designer.
DMD’s interface and the Library opens to a list of DMD kits. Big Room being the default selection. Choose “Empty Kit.”
Dragging Multiple Drums/Samples
Also new in 10.2.1 is the ability to drag multiple samples over at once. There doesn’t seem to be a science yet regarding how each sample is dispersed across the available cells/voices. I think they come in alphabetically in reverse order as you need them. The bottom left cell of the first page in DMD is the first cell in order then across the row to the right. Numbering increases from the start of each row on to the second page and ending in the top right corner of the last page. So if you drag over 32 (or fewer) samples to the first page bottom left cell, then all your samples will be placed in DMD.
Dragging with a Purpose
If you primarily “step enter/draw” your beats in Logic’s Piano Roll, you may or may not care where the MIDI note triggers your chosen drum. You might though, and this is where general MIDI comes in handy. You may also like to “play” your beats in with a MIDI controller or the drum pads on your keyboard. Clear DMD again by choosing “Empty Kit.”—If it won’t clear, close the plugin window and try again from the Library. You’ll notice on each cell, Apple has written names for different drum sounds. The bottom left cell says “Kick 1”, and the top left says “Shaker.” These are what’s called GM or General MIDI suggested labels. If you drag the same type of sound to each cell’s suggestion, then the kits will work as expected with GM MIDI controllers and in Apple’s own virtual Drummer! Basically, GM kits start on MIDI note C1 on up. The kick almost always beings on the bottom left key (C1) for example, and the rest of the drums are spread across the MIDI notes above it.
If you’ve gone though your library and organized the various drums, you’ll now see the benefit of doing just that! You can click into specific categories to drag favorite snares, kicks, hats, FX, etc. If you didn’t organize your library don’t worry… most packs are already organized by drum sound, so you should easily be able to try out different samples quickly in Logic’s “All Files” menu (press F then onto the All Files tab).
You may be thinking that some of the drums are too loud, and you’d be right! Most one-shot samples are recorded loud… just because you’re using custom samples shouldn’t limit your options when it comes to volume, tuning, editing the envelope, etc. though. The sample is automatically loaded into an Ultrabeat and Logic’s Smart Control (B) gives you instant access to common things like volume, pitch and envelope.
Saving Your Kit
Finished building your kit? Then save it. Make sure you’re not selected onto a specific voice/cell. You can be sure by simply clicking the name of the kit at the very top of the DMD interface (currently reading “Empty Kit” if you’re following along). This is an important step; if you’ve selected into a cell specifically you will not be saving the whole kit itself. Now, click the “Save…” button at the bottom of the Library window and choose a location to save your custom kit. There is a way to get your kits in with the Logic ones, but I prefer placing them into my own folder labeled DMD Kits. When you first click save, you’re located at the user level Instrument folder. Create a new folder at this level and call it DMD Kits, then save your custom kit into this location with a chosen name.
Use Your Custom Kit Directly in DMD
Simply open DMD the way you normally would by picking it from the list of instruments directly on the channel. In the Library, scroll to the far left edge and you’ll see the “User Patches” folder. Your custom folder and kit should be available here. Simply click it and your custom kit will load.
Use Your Custom Kit in a Drummer Track
Click to create a new track and choose the “Drummer” option like you normally would. Open the Library (Y) scroll to the far left to the “User Patches” folder and choose your kit. The Drummer track is now using your custom kit! When switching around to different drummers (like Logan, Magnus, Nikki, etc.), Drummer will switch the kit out on you. To stop this, simply hold the Option key while moving between drummers.