This website uses cookies to give you the best possible experience. To accept cookies continue browsing, or view our Privacy & Cookies Policy.

Recording midi drums with an electronic drum kit and a computer using a midi to usb cable

Using an electric drum kit, you can take away a lot of hassle of micing up drums, or a lot of money spent on studio fees recording there. The sounds might not be the same but in some cases you will end up with something more modern sounding, which is much more easy to work with in terms of changing drum sounds using the midi data you create.

For sure, recording with electric drums is the perfect way to demo record if you intend to rerecord live drums at a later date.

I have been demoing some tracks lately so I will share my setup. I record using a Roland TD4KX2, which is connected to my computer with a Roland Um-One midi to usb cable.

In the past I have recorded midi drums for an album, but I wasn't keen on some of the cymbal sounds, and for the style of music (metal), I couldn't find anything that worked with riding crashes and slushy open hi hats. I find that for many other styles, that the electric cymbal sounds work a lot better.

I use Abelton Live 9 as the DAW (purchased with an educational discount - recommended to anyone that teaches), and I have an external usb soundcard interface called M-Audio Fast Track. The fast track is pretty old as it came with a pro tools se program i tried out ages ago, but it still works well. I use this interface to run an audio feed to my drums so I can play along to a track or a click while I record into the program.

Once recorded, I then start editng what sounds the midi notes produce. There are plenty of free drum sounds online to get started with, and even more paid for ones if you have a search. A good free example would be the free ones on

Finally, you can then chose to keep your midi as it is, or to quantise it. Most dance music is heavily quantised, and dance-pop too, but beyond that it is often good to keep the human feel. I guess it depends on how good you are at timing! Try it - if you prefer the quantised version then go with that. If not just click undo. Its worth saving the original midi if you are unsure, or perhaps having two drum tracks in the project file; the original, and the copy and pasted one with quantise added, and just mute one of the tracks.

In conclusion, recording midi drums is a great way to save time and money. Some of this time you might lose at first while finding drum sounds and editing them to suit you. They can replace the final drum tracks possibly, but at the very least they are a very effective way of making quick demo tracks for any style. For live or final recordings, some of the cymbal sounds aren't always as good as the real thing so if you find this, you might want to look at recording or playing live with a hybrid setup of electric drums and real cymbals.

Difficulty Level: 

back to top

Mailing List

* indicates required