man listening to recording of his electronic drums on his pc

How to Record Electronic Drums on a PC

Electronic Drums are a great alternative to acoustic kits as you can easily record their sound without any hassles. The main issue lies in figuring out which way is best to record the electronic drums on a PC. There are a couple of options available that allow you to do so.

Some of these are easy and inexpensive, like using an iRig connection or using a USB for example. On the other hand, some are expensive and more complex to set up. Whatever the case, each has its own pros and cons. On the bright side, you don’t have to choose one or the other.

In fact, most experts recommend that you use a combination of two methods to allow for more freedom. For instance, you can use a combination of an audio interface along with a MIDI connection.

Read ahead to find out how to record electronic drums on a PC.

Record Electronic Drums Using MIDI

The first option is using a Musical Instrument Digital Interface (or MIDI) to record. It may not be the cheapest option on the market, but it’s not overly expensive either. The MIDI allows you to capture all the notes directly from the drum pads and the cymbals. Recording with a MIDI grants you the flexibility to rework the track and make changes to it later.

Equipment Needed

  1. A computer.
  2. USB Cable or a MIDI Interface.
  3. Audio Recording Software or a Digital Audio Workstation.

For this, we recommend that you check your drum module. If your module includes a USB type module, then simply use a USB A to USB B type connector. On the other hand, if it includes a standard MIDI output, then you might need to buy a MIDI to USB interface.

Examples include Addictive Drums, EZdrummer, and Toontrack.

Instructions

  1. Check to make sure your drum module supports MIDI. If it does not, take out all the input wires from your drum module and connect them to a MIDI Drum module input. This might result in increased costs as you’ll have to buy an entirely new set that supports MIDI.
  2. Turn on your computer.
  3. Connect the MIDI output from the drum module to the computer.
  4. Open your Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) or the drum recording software.
  5. Since each software is different, you need to do your research. Make sure you follow all instructions that allow you to map the notes to your required sounds.
  6. Record and play your drums.
  7. After you’re done, you can easily make changes in your track to align them better. This includes changing the size of the grid and aligning the track with the grid.

Pros

  1. You can make changes to the sound later.
  2. It allows more flexibility for the drum tracks and MIDI notes.
  3. It allows you to quantize your MIDI notes or rearrange them.
  4. You can easily process the sound of each drum differently by using EQ, reverb, compression etc. It makes for more precise edits.

Cons

  1. Mapping the MIDI notes can be a tedious task.
  2. Too complicated for some.
  3. You might need to buy a separate MIDI drum module if your electronic drum kit does not support MIDI.

Record Electronic Drums Using an Audio Interface

In case your drums are not equipped with a MIDI module, you can opt for an audio interface. This method is generally more expensive but it also yields better results. Most drum kits feature audio outputs that you can use to record live performances.

Generally, an audio interface transmits the output from your kit to a digital signal which your computer then reads. The computer easily records the signals with this method. Furthermore, they use a USB connection to connect to your computer. They are also quite easy to install.

We recommend that you only buy an interface that is compatible with your computer system.

Equipment Needed

  1. A computer that meets the requirements of your interface.
  2. Recording Software such as Audacity or Garage Band. You can also buy DAWs such as Ableton Live, Logic etc. Some of these may be free.
  3. An audio interface.
  4. Audio cables.

Check the connections on your drum modules and buy audio cables accordingly. Generally, you could need TS or TRS cables depending on your output modules.

Instructions

  1. Turn the computer on.
  2. Connect the audio outputs on your drums to the inputs in your audio interface. Connect them using the appropriate audio cables.
  3. On your audio interface search for the volume or the gain knob. Turn it up.
  4. Next, using a USB cable, connect the output from your interface to your computer.
  5. Open the recording software or the DAW on your computer.
  6. Follow the instructions and record the audio.
  7. Start playing.
  8. Your track will be recording and you can see it in the form of audio waves.

Pros

  1. Minimal effort.
  2. Simpler user interface.
  3. Easy to do.

Cons

  1. Some drums only include stereo outputs that do not allow you to separate the outputs. This can be an issue if you wish to mix the tracks and create a new beat.
  2. You cannot make changes to the internal sounds of the drum. What you’ve recorded is what you get. There can be no further changes to it.

Parting Notes

Both methods have their own advantages and drawbacks. Mostly, we recommend that the Direct Audio Output; it is the best option if you’re recording for personal practice. The audio interface allows you to easily record your sound without any hassles.

On the other hand, if you want a more comprehensive sound that you can tweak later, then the MIDI way is the best way. Personally, we recommend that you combine both of these options together to allow the highest degree of freedom.

Overall, recording your electric drums through your computer is an easy task if you have an interface or a MIDI connector. In the end, it comes down to what you need and how much work you’re willing to put into the process.

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