Getting the most out of Toontrack EZDrummer 2

TennMel

New member
Hey all,

I'm fairly invested in Toontrack EZDrummer 2 (just bought my 3rd expansion, anyway) and I was curious if anyone had any advice on how to get the most out of it so that my tracks sound as much like they've got a live drummer behind them as possible. For anyone that's had success with it, would you mind sharing a song where you feel like you got the best results? Also, I'd love to hear about people's workflows and how they use it. For example... I almost never use the internal song-structuring tool or any of the premade grooves, but maybe I should. I've also been back and forth on whether to use the internal mixer or to have everything set on its own track. I think there are advantages and drawbacks to both workflows. Lately, I feel like it's best to keep everything in one track and use the internal tools to get the drums to as close to the "final" sound as you can, before eventually breaking stuff you want to further tweak into its own track. This keeps things nice and clean and "all in one place" during the composition stage, at any rate.
 

LazerBeakShiek

AKA Optimus Prime LEGO Vampire
Nobody? ok..Hey man, I don't do anything. I use EQ only for HPF/LPF-ing. I put JS Master Limiter in the main/track FX window. So I don't clip whilest I play or yell. Here is where I am at, 8th mix on the same project. Drums quiet. No idea if I am doing anything correct. When I get to the plate,,,,I swing.


This project is arranged in the midi window. I move the midi blocks to make it correct. Classic EZX is used in this project. A single stretched drum measure.
https://soundcloud.com/mark-c-746521042%2Fsongun-3-008
 

R D Smith

Member
I've been using EZ Drummer and Ez Bass for about a year. I use the song building features as far as putting the parts, (verses, chorus, bridge, etc.) together. I always start with the basic song, ie. guitars and vocals and then add the drum and bass parts, then finish the overall mix in the DAW.

I've exported the individual drum tracks, but for my skill level, using the internal mixer works fine. I will edit the midi to remove or add something if necessary. Same with EZ Bass.

This is an example with EZ Drummer and EZ Bass. I'm playing the guitars and vocals. Like LBS above, I have many versions of this mix, and I got to where I think it's ok. I know there are still things that need fixing, but I find that I learn more mixing a bunch of different projects and then revisit and tweak previous ones.

My Way Or The Highway
 

TennMel

New member
@LazerBeakShiek I like these results. I could see some fills or variations enhancing it but you've captured a good sound here that I'm not sure I would even recognize as "not a real drummer" unless I was looking for it, at least from the sound perspective. I like the results you've gotten and am embarrassed to say I've never used a limiter.

@R D Smith This sounds very good as well. Did you use their EZ grooves on this? It sounds good and the fills don't sound too canned but that might be due to how you've tastefully employed them.

I think you're also smart to have the song "done" before you add drums. The canned drums then are never leading the song, you are just employing them, tastefully, where needed.
 
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R D Smith

Member
Thanks TennMel. I use the EZX libraries in EZ drummer. They break down as the type of music or beats. I use the Grooves in EZ Bass. They also break down by the type of music and beats, etc.

As I said above, it's pretty much as EZ does it. I'll adjust the length of the part and remove or add things and adjust the EZ mixer, but that's about it other than a LPF and/or HPF.
 

LazerBeakShiek

AKA Optimus Prime LEGO Vampire
Sup Ray, song was tight. I like.

Finding the beats, I use the tool in EZ Drummer. Gets me close fast. Then I make small changes in the midi blocks. Click Tap to find. Quantize for simplicity. Use the bass drum first. Then snare. Show results. The tool will list the beats available in order of percentage closest. Build the song fast.

Screenshot 2022-02-09 180951.jpg
Screenshot 2022-02-09 181145.jpg
Screenshot 2022-02-09 181225.jpg
 

PorterhouseMusic

Active member
A glimpse at my workflow (I use a Tascam standalone digital recorder):

1) I often use tap to find to get me started with parts that fit a song idea or riff.

2) I typically do quite a bit of editing using the different tools: snipping parts for tight editing, copy, paste, and *edit play style* - which is incredibly useful. I've gotten pretty good at and enjoy fine-tune editing to get things just the way I want

3) Once I get my drum parts more or less laid out - I render them as 24/48 wav's individually by using the solo function in the mixer. Then I move those to individual tracks in my Tascam recorder so each once can be treated however I see fit: onboard EQ, effects, and/or compression - **or I use outboard gear such as WA76, WA2A, or WA-EQP.

I'm not new to EZDrummer 2 - I have worked out a shit ton of drum parts with it over several years and enjoy working in it immensely - but I am new to this particular workflow as I've described above. I'm getting better and predict I will putting out some of my best work in the near future.
 

Tadpui

Well-known member
In SD 2 and 3, one of the biggest things that made it sound more realistic to me was to enable all of the bleed on all of the channels in the mixer tab. And I enable the bleed on all of the ambient mics (which is off by default for all but 1 or 2 pairs of room mics). You can always pick and choose which ambient tracks you want to hear once you break everything out to tracks in your DAW and bus them together.

For me, bus compression is where most of the magic happens on drums. Something with a medium attack and fast release really helps pull it all together and slightly exaggerate the room mics. Speaking of exaggerated room mics, I'd say crush the living snot out of them with a compressor and blend them in.

That, and don't just slam every kit piece with 127 velocity hits. Find the right velocity curve on your MIDI controller that suits your touch. Tap in your patterns so they actually fit what you're doing, and they're uniquely yours and not drummer karaoke like the groove libraries.

But the biggest improvement to my drum tracks was just getting a drum kit and a bunch of microphones and doing it myself. It sounds just like the real thing! Of course there's the caveat that I'm not a very good drummer. But there's no instrument that's more fun to be bad at than the drums :D
 

spantini

COO of me, inc.
... That, and don't just slam every kit piece with 127 velocity hits. Find the right velocity curve on your MIDI controller that suits your touch. Tap in your patterns so they actually fit what you're doing, and they're uniquely yours and not drummer karaoke like the groove libraries....
That there's a good one ;)
 

LazerBeakShiek

AKA Optimus Prime LEGO Vampire
That, and don't just slam every kit piece with 127 velocity hits. Find the right velocity curve on your MIDI controller that suits your touch. Tap in your patterns so they actually fit what you're doing, and they're uniquely yours and not drummer karaoke like the groove libraries.
Hmmm lets talk playin drums. When you are recording real drums, are you ever like ...'man, I need to hit those skins softer'.. HELL NO! You want to smash those drum heads. HARD. Not hitting them hard enough is the biggest issue. You gotta know how to hit.

Like singing, are you ever gonna be like..'hey man , you are yelling, You got to sing more quietly.' NO!

Why would it be different in the drum VST? Hit em hard? or what, you play drums all quiet ?
 
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Tadpui

Well-known member
Hmmm lets talk playin drums. When you are recording real drums, are you ever like ...'man, I need to hit those skins softer'.. HELL NO! You want to smash those drum heads. HARD. Not hitting them hard enough is the biggest issue. You gotta know how to hit.

Like singing, are you ever gonna be like..'hey man , you are yelling, You got to sing more quietly.' NO!

Why would it be different in the drum VST? Hit em hard? or what, you play drums all quiet ?
Just no to all of that. Dynamics are a thing. Loud, quiet, hard, soft. There's a whole universe of dynamics out there. Explore it!
 

LazerBeakShiek

AKA Optimus Prime LEGO Vampire
No. it is better to be louder and make more 'noise' with the drums, if using microphones to record or mics+PA to perform. Always.

You don't want it weaker, and make up the gain +6-8db to get back in the mix. The video illustrates the point in a simple easy to understand way.
 
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TennMel

New member
No. it is better to be louder and make more 'noise' with the drums, if using microphones to record or mics+PA to perform. Always.

You don't want it weaker, and make up the gain +6-8db to get back in the mix. The video illustrates the point in a simple easy to understand way.
I hear you, we're talking about the difference between volume and velocity. I'm primarily a guitar player and I work with a teacher and we often talk about dynamics and how playing with soft dynamics is not the same as playing weakly.
 
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