How To Create A Drum Kit From A Synthesizer

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Creating a Synth Drum Kit Using A Free VST Synth & Ableton Live. Programming synth drums allows you the freedom to precisely design your drum frequencies and dynamics. However, it is easier to sequence drums using a drum machine rather than a bunch of synthesizers. This tutorial explains how to record the audio output of a synthesizer into a drum machine using Ableton Live. For this tutorial you will need:

Recording the Synthesizer

In Ableton Live, the output of any VST instrument can be recorded onto an audio track. If you want to reuse the recorded audio, this is faster than using the File Menu’s Render to Disk… option. Use the following steps to record a synthesizer’s output to a new audio track:

1) Create a new audio track

2) Next you need to set the audio input source for the audio track. While in the arrange mode, hover your mouse over the line that defines the very bottom of your audio track. See the image below.

Click that line and drag down a bit so that you can see the audio inputs for the track. By default, the audio input should be set to Ext In. Change it to Resampling or change it to the MIDI track containing the synth. If you change it to Resampling, the audio track will record in all audio that is being played by Ableton. If you change it to the MIDI track, it will only record the output of the synthesizer.

3) Turn on record enable for the audio track. (This is the icon on the far right of the audio track, beside solo).

4) Press F9 to enable recording in Ableton Live. (Or click the record button on the transport).

5) Press play and trigger your synth. Its output will be recorded to the audio track you just made.

6) Trim the audio clip as needed to isolate your kick sound. Be sure to consolidate the clip after you make the edits. Press Ctrl-J with the clip selected to consolidate the edits.

Loading the Synth Drums into the Impulse

Ableton’s Impulse Drum Machine provides an easy interface for programming synth drums. Use the following steps to play your rendered synth output using the Impulse.

1) Create a new MIDI track.

2) Load up the impulse/simpler onto the new MIDI track.

3) Drag the rendered synth audio clip onto an open slot in the impulse.

That’s it! After you are done, be sure to save a preset for the impulse/simpler so that you can jam with your custom synth drums later.