How to Make MIDI Drums Sound Realistic

One of the biggest problems in homerecording is a really good drum sound. For most Homestudio owners it’s almost impossible to record an entire drum kit for a song. This is why most of us are forced to program midi drums. In this blog article you get some ideas on how to make MIDI drums sound realistic.

Watch “How to make MIDI drums sound realistic” on YouTube:

How to make midi drums sound realistic
How to make midi drums sound realistic

1. Converting MIDI to Audio:

Turning your MIDI drum patterns into audio is the first step towards achieving a lifelike sound. Here’s how to do it:

a. Choose Quality Drum Samples:

Begin by selecting high-quality drum samples. The quality of your samples plays a significant role in the realism of your drum tracks. Look for libraries that offer a wide range of articulations and velocity layers for each drum element.

b. Humanize Your MIDI Performance:

MIDI drum patterns can often sound too robotic. To make them sound more human, use velocity modulation to create variations in the strength of each hit. Additionally, slightly adjust the timing of each note to mimic the natural imperfections of a human drummer.

c. Add Realistic Articulations:

Real drummers use various techniques to create dynamic and realistic drumming patterns. Experiment with techniques like ghost notes, accenting certain hits, and using drum rolls to add expressiveness to your MIDI performance.


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2. Simulating Room Microphones and Overheads:

Creating a convincing sense of space is essential for realism in drum sounds. Here’s how to simulate room microphones and overheads:

a. Room Ambience:

To emulate the sound of room microphones, consider using reverb plugins or convolution reverbs. These tools allow you to apply the characteristics of different acoustic spaces to your drum tracks, adding depth and realism.

b. Overhead Microphones:

Overhead microphones capture the overall sound of the drum kit. You can simulate this by panning two virtual microphones slightly left and right, capturing the stereo image of the kit. Adjust the levels to find the right balance between the close-miked drums and the overheads.

c. Bleed and Crosstalk:

To make your drum mix sound even more authentic, consider adding a touch of “bleed” or “crosstalk” between different drum tracks. This simulates the fact that microphones on a real drum kit will pick up some sound from adjacent drums.

In conclusion, achieving realistic drum sounds from MIDI files is a combination of selecting the right samples, humanizing your performance, and simulating the natural acoustics of a drum kit. By following these techniques, you can elevate your music productions to a whole new level, making your MIDI drums sound like they were recorded by a seasoned pro. So go ahead, experiment, and create drum tracks that leave your listeners in awe. I hope this “how to make MIDI drums sound realistic” helps you a lot.


DAW used in this video: Cubase 12 Pro with Groove Agent and additional Sample Packs from steinberg. Get Cubase at musicstore.com

Most of the Plugins were Cubase Stock Plugins except from the Scheps Omni Channel and the CLA 1176 which are both available at waves.com

By the way: you can develop your own way to proceed MIDI drums to realistic sounding drums and makes this part of your unique signature sound. To get some more ideas on how to create your own unique signature sound grab our FREE SIGNATURE SOUND CHEAT SHEET now!

How to make MIDI drums sound realistic
Ask Audio Engineer Toby Schuetgens from Simple Life Studio to mix & master our song!

If you need your own tracks to be mixed or mastered, hit the button above and feel free to reach out.

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2 Comments

  1. Hi Toby
    Thank You for sharing its amazing

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