Using samples as replacements

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Using samples as replacements

Post by Aaron Straley »

I've recently come to the conclusion that it is standard practice to replace or mask some recorded sounds with samples when mixing. My understanding is that this is most commonly done for the bass and snare. Are there any other instruments that are commonly replaced that I need to be aware of?
What method do you use to get the tails on the samples and tune them properly?

Any tips or tricks y'all can recommend?

In what cases would you not replace bass and snare with a sample? What are the criteria for deciding to replace or mask a sound with another?

Is this a personal decision for the mixer or just something that automatically needs to be done?

I'll be delving into this today, and thought I'd post on here, since I've gotten such good advice in the past.
Aaron Straley
Posts: 62 Joined: Wed Apr 13, 2022 12:25 pm Location: Pennsylvania, USA

Re: Using samples as replacements

Post by The Elf »

It doesn't have to automatically always be done, or where would we have been before samplers were around?! :lol:

It's usually an artistic decision made by the 'producer' (and maybe that's you), and the bottom line is 'does it sound better for this mix?' When I work with some bands they don't want any drum replacement, while others will expect it - both approaches are equally valid. Some drummers will even send me replacement options with their recording.

Sometimes replacement is necessary when the recording didn't turn out as expected. I've had drummers towel their snare, only to regret the decision at mix time. When I'm working with a drummer in the studio I will ask him to record a set of single hit samples before we break down his kit. I will use these to replace weak hits, or other problem areas. Using samples of the actual kit in place makes for fairly seamless replacement options.

As far as possible I will avoid replacing/enhancing drums if the kit sounds good as it is. Often I will enhance with a small amount of sample, just to add some 'tick' or 'sizzle'. It's not always about replacing totally.

As to tuning - it's not something I think about up front. If a replacement sounds odd then I will tweak the tuning, but it's not an exact science.

In short, if you're looking for an 'always do this' answer I don't think it exists. Do what you ears (or the producer) tells you is right.

As to tools for the job - the Steven Slate drum replacer is about as close to perfection as it gets, IMHO.
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