Building Drum Kits in PreSonus Studio One Impact

You can take Impact, in PreSonus Studio One, to another level. Gary Hiebner shows you how to build your own custom kits in this excellent drum machine instrument.  

Studio One comes bundles with a great Drum Machine instrument, Impact. Let’s take a look at how to build your own Impact kits and store them.

Step 01 – Build Your Own Kit

Load an instance of the Impact drum machine onto an instrument track. It’ll load up the default preset, which doesn’t have any samples loaded into it yet. Impact looks very much like your hardware drum machines that are available. It has 16 drum pads on the interface, and a sample (or more than one sample) can be assigned to each pad. On the bottom of the drum pad is the indication of the key range assigned to each drum pad. By default, they are each set to one MIDI note key starting from B0, going up to D2.

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Impact does come with a selection of very good pre-built drum kits, but let’s take a look at how to build up your own Impact kit using your own drum samples.

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Drag a kick sample of your choice and drag it onto the C1 drum pad. It’ll load into that drum pad and you’ll see in the GUI it shows the waveform of that audio sample. Now drag a snare sample onto D1.

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Use F#1 as the closed hi hat drum pad, and an open hi hat sample onto A#1.

If you want to tweak the sound of each drum pad, you have a Pitch envelope to change the transposition and tuning, and there’s a filter where you can change the cutoff frequency and resonance peak, and finally an amplitude envelope. On each of these envelopes are AHD dials, which dial in the attack time, hold time, and decay time respectively for the audio sample.

When you're happy with your drum sounds, save the kit by going to the save disk icon and choosing ‘Store Preset’. Then you can recall this drum kit in your future songs.

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Step 02 – Velocity Switching Drum Samples

You can assign more than one sample to a drum pad and use the velocity switching feature to trigger between the samples. This works well if you want to trigger different drum sounds depending on how much velocity you apply to each drum pad. For example let’s say you want to be able to trigger different hat samples with different velocities.

To do this drag another hat drum sample onto the F#1 hats pad, but make sure you hold down Shift when you drop it on the pad. This will load the sample onto the drum pad, instead of replacing the current one with this one.

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Just above the waveform display of the hats are the velocity switching lanes for each sample. Drag these around to change the key range for the velocity switching lanes. Now when you hit that drum pad with different velocities, you’ll hear different hats samples being triggered. Go through and add some velocity switching samples for your other drum pads as well to add in some more realism to your drum sounds.

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Step 03 – Use the Modifiers to Edit your Drum Sounds 

I briefly explained the modifiers that are available on the right of the interface in Step 2, but let’s take a closer look at how these can alter your samples. Select a drum pad and then increase the Env dial all the way to the right. This will increase the amount of the envelope applied. Now increase the attack time while hitting this drum pad and hear how it changes the attack of this sample. Tweak the hold and decay parameters as well and tailor these to your drum sample. You can pull back on the Env dial to apply less of the envelope. Different velocity amounts will change the sound as well depending how high you have the Vel dial. These AHD, Env and Vel parameters work the same on the Filter and Amplitude envelopes. So use these to edit your samples until you are completely happy with them, and remember to store the preset.

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Step 04 – Program in a Drum Pattern

Now let’s program in a MIDI drum pattern. You can either draw in the pattern in the Drum editor window, or you can use your MIDI keyboard to record in the drums. I’d recommend a MIDI keyboard as you can then play in different velocity amounts to trigger the key switches. After you have recorded in your MIDI part, double-click the MIDI clip to open the Drum Editor window. To write in a drum pattern, create a MIDI clip in the Arrange window, and then double-click it to bring up the Drum Editor. If you write in the pattern, you will need to go in afterwards and edit the velocities for them to switch with the velocity switching as the velocities will all be the same.

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What really works well is to impart some swing into your drum patterns to give them a bit more groove and human feel. Select all your MIDI drum notes with Command-A (Mac) or Control-A (PC) and then hit the Q button. This will bring up the advanced quantize settings. Now dial in a swing value. Try out the different settings such as Straight, or Triplet. You don’t have to apply the swing to all the MIDI notes. Maybe you only want to add swing to the hats. Select the hats MIDI notes, and then apply the swing amount. Don’t go too high as it may throw the pattern too much off the beat.

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And that’s how to use the Impact drum machine to build up your own drum kits in Studio One. So take those samples you have from your sample libraries and bring them into Impact so that you can incorporate them into your future Studio One songs. And then program in some patterns and add some humanization to them with some swing.

For more Studio One Tips and tricks check out the following tutorials:

Gary Hiebner is an enthusiastic South African Sound Designer and Apple Tech Head! Gary has been involved in the South African music industry for the decade, and in this time has also been involved in the sound design and music production for many advertising agencies and media houses. Gary is a devoted Logic and Ableton user, but he al... Read More


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