My MIDI drum tracking rig

 

 
I get a ton of questions from comments and e-mails about my rig and what I’m using to track with all this gear and it’s actually a fairly simple setup. Leave any questions or comments in the comment section below. Thanks!

 


Roland SPD-30 Octapad

Roland SPD-30 Octapad

Roland’s SPD-30 Octapad is the most responsive and accurate MIDI controller for drummers I have ever played, and I’ve played on almost everything out there that’s electronic you can hit with a stick.
I’ve owned a ton of Guitar Hero drum controllers (at least 30), Rock Band and Ion Kits, a Roland TD-10 & TD-20 kit, and a Roland SPD-S.

The most common issue I’ve found with MIDI drum controllers is not being able to pick up those light taps for ghost notes and crescendos, or even just upbeat hits on the Hi Hat. So what do you do when this happens? Turn up the sensitivity 1 notch at a time until it starts picking up those low velocity hits.

The problem with this is when you turn up the sensitivity on one pad, hitting other pads around the controller/kit might fire off a hit with your pad with low sensitivity now. This is what we call cross talking.

I have yet to experience any double hits with the SPD-30 either. This happened pretty frequently with other controllers where you would get flam-like MIDI output sporadically throughout your performance.

These are easily the most common problems with drum MIDI controllers these days, and the Roland SPD-30 Octapad had none of these issues straight out of the box.


Toontrack Superior Drummer 2.0

Toontrack Superior Drummer 2.0
The combination of the Octapad and Superior 2.0 is absolutely awesome. It’s allowed me to track demos and even full-on final recordings at 4 AM in my apartment. Using MIDI output with Superior 2.0 has never been easier to get a good fully modifiable drum sound.
Superior 2.0 delivers amazing sounds straight out of the box, and comes with a bunch of presets to make them sound better, and you don’t need to know the first thing about audio production or mixing. At the same time, the software allows you to run Multi Output to go straight into your DAW (Logic, Protools, Reason etc.), and treat them as actual drum tracks letting you add your own plugins like Compression, EQ, Noise Gates, Reverb and etc.

Superior Drummer 2.0’s samples were recorded by Pat Thrall, Neil Dorfsman, and Nir Z at Hit Factory, Avatar Studios, and Allaire studios, NY. The three have worked with artists as diverse as Meatloaf, Celine Dion, Nick Lachey, Sting, Bruce Springsteen, Dire Straits, Beyoncé, Björk, Kiss, Joss Stone, Genesis, John Mayer, and Chris Cornell.

It has recently gained more popularity with bands like Periphery, Meshuggah, and Animals As Leaders.


Digidesign Mbox 2 USB Audio/MIDI Pro Tools LE Interface

Digidesign Mbox 2 USB Audio/MIDI Pro Tools LE Interface This bad boy plugs into your Mac or PC via USB, and lets you plug your Octapad into its MIDI-in with a MIDI cable.

I would recommend the M-Audio USB Uno 1X1 MIDI Interface if you’re just recording MIDI output, otherwise the Mbox 2 has multiple inputs allowing you to record vocals, guitar, and etc. with its analog and digital inputs.


Pro Co MIDI Plug 5-Pin Hot All Wired 3 Foot

Pro Co MIDI Plug 5-Pin Hot All Wired 3 Foot
This guy runs from my Octapad into the mbox which carries all the magic.

 
Simple enough.


Sound Percussion SP880SS Double Braced Snare Stand Standard

Sound Percussion SP880SS Double Braced Snare Stand Standard
This is a spare snare stand that I’ve had for about 6 years now, with no problems at all. A lot of snare stands don’t go high enough to my liking (which is unusually high), but this one does.

 
Pretty.


ROC-N-SOC Lunar Series Gas Lift Drum Throne Black

ROC-N-SOC Lunar Series Gas Lift Drum Throne Black
I have fully converted to Roc-n-soc drum thrones for their durability, look, and their ability to adjust to heights I need to be able to perform. I’m about 6 ft. 1 in. tall, and I keep my snare almost at waist height if I stand next to it, so it’s not often I come across thrones that can actually go that high.

Also pulling the lever to adjust your height is fun, cause it’s so smooth.

 
Warning: very addicting. Once you have a roc-n-soc you won’t go back.
ROC-N-SOC Back Rest Black I have yet to find a desk/office chair that can rotate, doesn’t have arms, and goes high enough to accompany my comfortable playing height, so I got one of these to use as my normal desk chair. Switching to the Roc-n-Soc with a backrest has saved a lot of time and space when performing parts and editing sounds and performances back-to-back constantly. Just swivel, and adjust the height with a pull of a lever. So good.

If anyone has any other recommendations I would love to hear them, because this is hard to top.

Guitar Hero Kick Pedals


Say what you want about Guitar Hero Kick Pedals, but they cost me nothing and get the job done, and they are more responsive and dynamic than you think. All I needed was a couple 1/8 to 1/4 inch adaptors to plug into the Octapad’s expansion slots, and voilà.

I’m currently looking into products such as the Roland KD8 Kick Drum Trigger Pad, but it’s not totally necessary at the moment (even though one of my pedals is being held together with duct tape..

Well that’s pretty much it (minus things like my mixer, sticks, PC, and headphones and what not).

Please let me know if you have any questions or if there’s anything you need help with!

-andy

8 replies
  1. Tred
    Tred says:

    Hi Andy,

    First I would like to say that I’ve liked your videos very much. Very well played, and the compositions are awesome! I have a SPD-30 too (bought this week), and I’m just wondering if you have some instructions on how to map the SPD-30 to a VST. I have addictive drums, but I’m having some problems to map, as ALL pads are mapping to same sound. I’ve looked in SPD-30 and there the midi notes are diferent, so I dont know whats going on. Appreciate your help! Regards, Tred.

    • andyTHPS
      andyTHPS says:

      I would try to set up a *new* kit on your SPD-30 and individually mapping the pads to different MIDI note #’s separately, then hitting them as you go to see if it spits out the right sound from your VST plugin… just to make sure there isn’t anything funky going on with your current kit.

      If it’s still spitting out the same sound even though you’re hitting pads with different MIDI note #’s, you might want to try adjusting your VST by mapping the sounds to the corresponding note #’s you want.

  2. I AM BOG
    I AM BOG says:

    Hey

    Let me understand this. I’ve just bought an Alesis Control Pad with Hi Hat and Kick jack inputs. You think these Guitar Hero pedals will work? I didn’t look at the price of ‘real’ pedals until after I’d bought the pad and i don’t really want to spend $300 right now. Would these do, if only temporarily?

    Thanks in advance

  3. andyTHPS
    andyTHPS says:

    Yeah, they should. I’m in the same boat as you. Kick triggers can be pretty costly (and noisy). They have an 1/8th inch jack, so you could just buy an 1/8th inch to 1/4th inch adaptor for less than a buck each if your kick inputs are 1/4th inch.

    Guitar Hero pedals’ sensitivities can be a bit wonky, but most MIDI controllers let you adjust their sensitivity/threshold settings to work great. Let me know if you have any problems, and I can do what i can to help.

  4. I AM BOG
    I AM BOG says:

    Actually, i just re-read the Alesis site;
    http://www.alesis.com/dmhatpedal and apparrently i can use a hihat trigger for the bass input! I had no idea. You might want to look at this.

    “You can also use the DMHat Pedal as a bass drum trigger for modules that have switch inputs including the ControlPad and Performance Pad.”

    • andyTHPS
      andyTHPS says:

      Hey, I AM BOG, did you ever get a chance to try the Alesis DMHat Pedal with Superior 2.0?

      I’m curious as to how it responds with kicks and hi hats using superior 2.0 with something like and octapad or td-20 brain.

      • andyTHPS
        andyTHPS says:

        To anyone wondering: I ordered an Alesis DMHat pedal off of amazon and tried it with Superior 2.0 on the Roland SPD-30 Octapad, and the Hi Hat or Kick Pedal functions didn’t respond well at all. Waste of money. I have to put it on craigslist now.

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