EZ Drummer live? - Will it work?. And how to setup?

Discussion in 'Live Performance & Stage Sound' started by lewis, Nov 27, 2017.

  1. lewis

    lewis SS.org Regular

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    So my band are sick and tired of unreliable or unsuitable drummers plaguing are time.
    No commitment, unreliable, different styles.
    We just basically function so so so much better as a band without a drummer and its gotten to the point where its literally "Screw it shall we practice/gig with software drums?!"

    So.... is there any tricks etc of things I can do to make a EZ Drummer II drum tracks going direct to the P/A sound as realistic and punchy/ballsy as possible?

    Also, who else has basically just stopped worrying about public opinion and gigged with backing track drum tracks?
    The pros genuinely seem to outweigh the cons in our personal situation as long as we can get the drums sounding decent through the P.A.
     
  2. Jacksonluvr636

    Jacksonluvr636 SS.org Regular

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    There are some bands who do this and don't care, it works. I can't help you with mixing. EZ Drummer is already polished so I guess you would just have to play some gig and do some trial and error.

    If you really need to dig deep into mixing maybe Superior Drums would be a better option?
     
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  3. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

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    I think this is going to become a widespread thing. I've been working on an AI that will find the pulse of a song, given some rudimentary information, and then pick from a library of midi loops to chug along with you. It's not ready for real-time yet, but my goal is to get there in a couple of months. I think there is a real need for this, simply because musicians in general seem to have a very difficult time finding committed people, and the problem is exacerbated with drummers, who have to lug a lot of equipment. If I can get this to the point where you just run a DI from your guitar to a laptop or even better, use the internal mic for timing, and then the program renders the drum map, humanizes them, then renders to audio in real time without any extra fuss, then I think people might go for this... or not, since most of my ideas end up being largely ignored or copied by someone else who started out saying it wouldn't work and is a stupid waste of time.

    But now I've done plenty of gigs sans-bass-player (hired bass players who ditched out at the last minute or just nocall/noshowed) and just rand an octave divider during riffs and disabled it during chord-y parts.

    My only fear is that these things erode at the concept of "a band," which is how music starts and how music is collaborative. A better solution would be to have a situation where drummers had more incentive to show up and play with other musicians. I've known many many drummers who were super-reliable, but the problem is that those folks are also in super-high demand, so they get choosy about taking work that pays the best- which is usually playing in big swing bands or filling in for other bands with sick drummers or whatever. I even lost reliable drummers before to more corporate-type jobs.

    Anyway, I digressed pretty far off the point. There is absolutely no reason to not do this anymore, except that some talent buyers might scratch their heads wondering why there isn't a drummer. If you guys already have a fanbase, and fans are not put off by the lack of made-o'-flesh percussionists, why not?

    Heck, you could even keep an honorary band member on the sidelines to help keep the drum tracks organized and operating smoothly, so you still have the sense of collaboration. Maybe this person could also program the tracks to keep things a little more organic. It'd be like having a drummer, expect when the person ditches you the night of the show, you can still sound the same with a click of the mouse.
     
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  4. lewis

    lewis SS.org Regular

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    Exactly my thought process!!.

    Also that idea and software you are thinking up sounds spectacular!!!.
     
  5. Zombie13

    Zombie13 XIII

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  6. lewis

    lewis SS.org Regular

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    I had no idea for some reason you were doing this dude. Thats awesome.
    Any tips on getting a good sound?. How are you mixing it?
     
  7. GunpointMetal

    GunpointMetal SS.org Regular

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    If I had to do it, I would want and interface with at least 8 outputs and then send one channel for kick, one channel for snare, two in stereo for OHs, and two for in stereo for toms so the FOH guy can mix your drums for the PA/room and you still have two available outputs for a mono backing track and a mono click track. I would think you'd want to bounce out your drum tracks from MIDI to audio files just so there's one less thing to worry about when its playing back.
    I'm 100% any further projects I do are going to to be as few humans involved as possible, so this topic is of my interest.
     
  8. lewis

    lewis SS.org Regular

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    yeah I did think along these lines, but for simplicity sake and to get us going to start with, I might just mix the drum track/backing tracks and then have them mastered and just use like an MP3 thats like 30-45 minutes long of the whole set on etc.

    Drums/strings/bass drops/reverse cymbals and drones etc.

    Then I can do it so there is just 4 high hat count ins at the start of each song.

    But yeah being able to mix each individual part of the kit live would be sick.
     
  9. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

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    That could have it's advantages, but also might have some disadvantages, depending on the sound guy. I really don't see the point in bouncing the drums down to audio unless they are mixed (bussed) anyway.
     
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  10. GunpointMetal

    GunpointMetal SS.org Regular

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    My thought with bouncing it down to audio is that its way less work for the computer to playback straight WAV than it is to trigger samples via MIDI, at least with my machines. For me the advantage is allowing the FOH to decide how much of the kick/toms is in the subs, you can have a FAT snare that can be EQ'd to the room without worrying about some of it getting picked up in the crossover, and it will be easier to balance the cymbals with the rest of the kit since high-frequencies are anomalous from room to room. One place your cymbals might be harsh or washy compared to the rest of the kit and the next they might seem quiet or dark depending on the shape/construction of the room. I also highly-recommend people using sub drops or LFE stuff to have a separate channel going out for just that. If you have a single backing track and it has to be adjusted to the room so the kick/snare/keys sound right, you might be neutering your low end stuff for the sake of clarity, defeating the purpose of even using drops/etc. The handful of sound people I've asked about this stuff generally agree with me.
     
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  11. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

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    I don't disagree with your points, but there are disadvantages as well. If your playback is, say 3 stereo tracks and 2 mono tracks, it shouldn't be a big deal, but you still have to deal with the inconvenience of dragging along a computer with your DAW loaded, which might require you to bring your interface as well to keep it unlocked, whereas a single stereo track mixed would be more convenient from that aspect. Assuming you have a competent sound guy, your points really hit home, but, let's be realistic for a moment and think about where you might be playing and who your sound guy might be. IME, about half of the smaller venues sound guys are going to have an aneurism the moment you tell them you have multiple backing tracks for them to look after. Also probably about 10% of the sound guys at large venues will do the same. If you have your own sound guy, then, by all means, keep things flexible, but if Tweedle Dee's brother is running sound for you, you might as well just have the drunkest guy in the audience come up and beat box your drum tracks for you, unless you keep your stuff as simple as possible.

    In 2015, I ran sound for the biggest club in the area, and most of the bands running backing tracks, whether they included drums or not, had one stereo track. Since everything was EQ'd on the back end, it wasn't a big deal to get a good sound.
     
  12. GunpointMetal

    GunpointMetal SS.org Regular

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    I guess I'm lucky. Most places with decent systems that I've played have relatively competent sound guys, and the places that don't I usually just take over when we're up. If I get a cross-eyed look for having 5 DI's, I have no problem getting in dude's way to man the board. FOH only job is to make the band sound good, so if that's not possible due to incompetence, I'll gladly alert his employer/promoter/venue owner to the issue and do it myself.
     
  13. GunpointMetal

    GunpointMetal SS.org Regular

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    I'd say 99% of the shows we play we're not the only band using backing tracks, and for the last year or so, pretty much everyone is running a laptop/interface rig with IEM setups and often their doing their own mix from some sort of rackmount mixer/interface and sending one guy out front with an iPad to set the mix and sending a stereo output to the FOH, which is essentially the same thing as having your own sound guy. The iPod/cell phone to FOH with adapters isn't all that commonplace anymore as more and more people realize that isn't ideal and doesn't always sound good. Sure you're introducing additional gear, but you're also getting more control of your sound per room. After running a laptop/interface/IEM rig out of a single rack for the last few years, I trust that gear as much as I trust my Helix or my speakers. There'a always a risk, but getting a better sound should a top priority for a live band.
     
  14. lewis

    lewis SS.org Regular

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    Yeah think I need to go this route after the discussions in here.

    Any suggestions for a USB Rack interface with enough outputs thats affordable?

    Will need enough for Strings/synth, Bass Booms, drums and maybe some small extra guitar parts.

    Also, how would you set it up?. I presume something like -

    - Kick ( Channel 1)
    - Snare (Channel 2)
    - Toms (Channel 3)
    - Cymbals (Channel 4)
    - Bass booms (Channel 5)
    - Strings/synth (Channel 6)
    - Extra guitar bits (Channel 7)
    - Drones/Reverse Cymbals (Channel 8)

    Im going to need a decent affordable Desk with enough channels too so we can use this setup at our band practices.
    Will have to hunt around.
     
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  15. GunpointMetal

    GunpointMetal SS.org Regular

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    I guess that depends on what you consider affordable? I'm using the old Presonus 1818VSL, which I think I got for about $450 new. I like that because we only need three channels of output (keys, subs, click) and then we can use the other 5 outputs for mono IEM mixes with the VSL software. Theres the newer TASCAM US-2020 which is actually USB 3.0 compatible, Focusrite Scarlett 18i20, heard decent reviews of the Behringer Euphoria line.
    I believe some of the Behringer X-series rack mixers allow you to use multiple USB outputs, and there are similar mixers from several companies.
     
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  16. lewis

    lewis SS.org Regular

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    nice!.
    Straight away Im thinking the 18i20 for the interface. There is gen 1's on ebay with 2 year warranty's for like £240!!!!!!
     
  17. Zombie13

    Zombie13 XIII

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    There's a lot of ways to do it, a lot of them are great, but at the same time, a lot of them are just "I would do this".

    I've been playing as a one man band since 2015, after spending a few years with a revolving door of live members, I decided it was best for me to go on alone.

    I tried out a few ways, and the way it works best for me and for every different sound guy and venue I've played at is to have 1 mono track with all the drums, bass, guitar and effect tracks, already pre-mixed, with every song being played that night, breaks in between and count ins already layed out. Since you don't need the whole band on a track, it will be much easier. This way is also risky, so a backup is needed incase something goes wrong, but out of all the shows I've ever done on my own, I had only one issue at a show where my iPod died, which was my fault for not turning it off/charging it.

    A good mix is a must, so be prepared to spend some time EQing the track to a live setting, not at home through headphones. I rented out an hourly studio a few times to play really loud and hear my mix. I leave some room for the sound guy to do some additional EQing.

    Once the sound guy sets the volume at a good level, everything should sound great, enough to ruin video recordings.


    As of this year, I've been using a 4th generation iPod shuffle with a 1/8th to XLR cable that goes to FOH. I have 1 track that is used to sound check and the other is the complete set.

    I'm planning on moving up to a laptop to control the audio the same way but also a lighting system.

    This is how I sound check


    Hope it helps!
     
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  18. lewis

    lewis SS.org Regular

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    this is great advice dude thank you!.
    Good tip about having the "soundcheck" song separate too!.
     
  19. GunpointMetal

    GunpointMetal SS.org Regular

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    I can't do the two-track method because I hate it when every song has to start with a count-in, lol. Also long pauses are waaaaaay more dramatic when the drummer (track) doesn't have to use a china hit/count-in because everyone has the click in their ears.
     
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  20. lewis

    lewis SS.org Regular

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    Could i also set it up so the whole drum track might be bounced down to a single mixed/mastered WAV and Sound effects are their own separate mixed/mastered WAV.

    or is still better to have all elements of the kit separate for better live tweaking?
     

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