Size Does Matter When It Comes to Drum Module Sample Libraries
The biggest difference between an electronic drum kit and an acoustic kit is that an electronic kit completely relies on the module to create the sound when you play. The way the sounds are produced and what they actually sound like all depend on the samples you assign to each pad. It’s a very different concept from most other instruments, but a very important one when it comes to choosing a kit. To understand more about sample libraries and how they affect your buying decision, check out the helpful guide below.
What Is a Sample Library?
Simply put, a sample library is a database of individual sound effects that is programmed into the drum module. Each sample in the library is different, and can be mapped to any of the pads on the kit, playing whenever you strike that pad. The major benefit of electronic drum kits is that they are able to achieve a stunning variety of sounds based on this configurable design, though every kit includes a different amount of samples in varying quality ranges. The sample library is typically measured by the number of individual samples programmed into the module, as well as the number of factory and user presets it supports.
While the samples represent the individual drum sounds, presets refer the way the samples work together to function with the kit itself. Most modules come with a certain number of factory presets, which are premade arrangements of the individual samples already mapped to the various pads on the kit. The presets are usually themed around a particular type of real-life drum kit or musical style, such as rock drumming or hip-hop beats.
Choosing one of these presets allows you to quickly assign specific sounds to each pad so you can play in that style. The number of factory presets doesn’t always directly correlate to the size of the sample library, since most modules include a wealth of additional samples for use with custom presets. Lower end kits will typically come with around 10 factory presets, while high end kits can have upwards of 25.
Many drummers choose to stick to the factory presets, since they are designed to create a cohesive sound built around a specific sound. However, virtually every electronic kit supports user presets, which means that you can choose from the entire sample library to create your own completely unique kit. This is when the size of the sample library really comes into play, since it determines how varied your presets can be.
Most kits support a minimum of five user presets, with the number of slots increasing along with the complexity of the module (and the price of the kit itself). Defining your own drum kit sounds is one of the biggest benefits of owning an electronic kit, but it’s definitely and advanced feature that can become overwhelming for new players, since it requires a certain level of musical knowledge to assign the appropriate sounds to each pad and use them in a manner that makes sense while playing.
How Much Is Too Much?
The answer to this question really comes down to your personal preference, skill level, and needs. A large sample library can be great for professional musicians that plan to play live shows or do a lot of recording, since it affords more versatility with less effort. However, a library with over 1,000 samples is bound to cause complications for novice players when it comes to creating custom presets. Frankly, the majority of players won’t need more than a handful of kit presets, so don’t automatically jump to the assumption that more samples equals a better kit.
Some Closing Thoughts
In addition to the size of the sample library, you should definitely find out of the module supports the installation of additional samples. This can open up a whole new world of drumming possibilities, since you aren’t limited to just the sounds that come with the kit out of the box. Just be warned that this feature might only be available on higher-end kits, which can mean a bigger price tag.