Drum Synthesis


I have found myself in possession of a Vermona Kick Lancet. I’m not sure why I’m so drawn to this unit, but it’s been on my mind for some time.

I flick between wanting to get more into drum synthesis, buying modules or plug-ins, and then using the same 808/909 sample packs I’ve always used. It’s always seemed weird to me that the sounds I love so much have always been synthesized drums, but the way I use them have always been to load samples of the synthesis into, previously an MPC, and now Ableton.

Anyhow, help me out, do you use synthesized drums? If so, what’s your favourite method? How do you make your synthesized drums stand out in a mix as much as a re-sampled, bitcrushed version of the drum?




I’ve tried everything but best result triggering external drum brains (tabletop modules)

Why avoid resampling and bitcrushing? But anyhow even keeping things “pure” I run it thru fedback delays, eq/filters, comp, etc

like any other synth signal, drums LOVE fx


The utonic plugin and TEs new tonic pocket operator look like a nice team for synthesising drums then having a fiddle.

Fwiw I like layering drums with noise esp snares. And gated reverb is always a good idea :grin:


we’ve heard your tracks @Simeon
and it’s clear that you know what you’re doing :slightly_smiling_face: rock on!

random thoughts about digital/analog drums
digital sounds on a timeline means
'drums is just an idea,
making music with sounds :slightly_smiling_face:

oh, and…


Too kind man. And yes. All the kraftwerk, all the time!


I often refer to the Sound on Sound “Synth Secrets” articles—November 2001 to September 2002 is the series on designing drums and percussion.


They go into how different drum machines approach drum synthesis, both analog and digital. It’s all amazing. I’ve built a couple max patches based on some inspiration from these articles, but I haven’t read them in a few years - probably time for me to revisit.

Also, lol/wtf @ the “balls” knob


Amazing! That article looks great.

And I’ve been playing with the vermona today - the balls knob really works! So many cojones, and this pairs so well with my ambiental / drone work on the eurorack.

It is a ridiculous synth, no one needs 11 controls for one kick, but it’s so tweakable!

classic article!

aleph dsyn should also get a look in to this discussion. It’s an impressively flexible ‘generic drum’ architecture - need a good understanding of the voice algorithm to get anywhere with it though… Little to no instant gratification from random twiddling!

Damn those SOS articles sure are the gift that keeps on giving. I come back to them for reference at least once a year in the course of my own work.

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I use 99% synthesized drum sounds from my modular, and sometimes from PD or Max patches. It’s a mix of dedicated drum modules and other sources through percussive envelopes or low pass gates.

My favourite drum synth modules right now are ALM Akemie’s Taiko, Noise Engineering Basimilus Iteritas Alter, Giekes No Drum, and various other things :slight_smile:


i recently dove into elektron for drums with both the analog rytm and th eoctatrack before i got an organelle and the past month i think i made like three drum machines. Sample and pure synthesis based. i used Eric Lyon;s bashfest and a cool external called dmach that delivers nicely


I recommend investigating the Nord Modular synths, the Micro, G1, G2 and the free G2 demo. The bass is incredible on these machines and the detail and variation you can achieve in creating different kicks is really amazing.


I have managed to emulate the TR808 quite well in it, and reasonable versions of the 606. It certainly leans better towards electronic drum sounds and being Clavia Nord, it has it’s own wonderfully unique sound too.

808 G1 patch: http://www.mono-log.org/pch/808-v2.zip
606 G1 patch: http://www.mono-log.org/pch/606.zip

Interestingly, last night I begun collecting nearly 60 different kicks from various important tracks to me, for a 1hour mix/radio stream which is primarily going to consist of only the kick loops. My hope is, and already this is eveident in the collection thankfully, that all that variation in eq, fx, level, pattern etc will be compared to each other from loop to loop. Some stand out as easily identifiable classics, other perhaps less so, some interestingly come from classic tracks but the kick part seems less representative, yeah, very excited about it and highly recommend doing something similar, even if just an investigation around kicks or particular electronic drums from artist to artist, track to track or era to era.

There was an interesting installation recently by Mark Fell actually, where he commented about the variations from the click-like kicks from early house music from various machines, the 707, Yamaha’s, to the bigger thud and boom in techno of 808/909’s. I think it also hints at how those tracks would have been shaped as a result of the difference in that kick, and this certainly goes for all the drum sounds.

Others that come to mind are tracks that use primarily only drum machines, one of the earliest I remember was probably DJ Hells - Hot of the Heels of Love (Dave Clarke remix)


Anyway, sorry, this is a subject I could talk about for a long time :slight_smile:



cool stuff
I never really got into that music when it was around but it sure sounds fun
also something I threw together a long time ago with the above song


haha, classic track, crazy combo, like it :smile:

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When I first heard about the Vermona Kick I thought it was ludicrous to pay 200 quid for something that only does one job, but I got one second hand, and I looove it. I use it on almost all of my tracks. It sounds brilliant. I have the DRM II as well, and the standalone Kick has a lot more balls :slight_smile:


I really ONLY used synthesized drums. I am really bad/lazy at sampling and I think kind of missed the boat on it. I would love to get better in general but I just find it tedious and very organizationally intensive - not usually the frame of mind I’m in when jamming. That being said, here’s my gear:

  • Sonic Potions LXR Drum Machine - by far my favorite but I have limited experience with other gear. Its a full-fledged digital synthesizer and a very, very limited sample player. I think this is why I like it. Great connectivity to the modular as well. Firmware is open source - I would think this would be a popular option here.
  • Bastl Tea Kick - very easy to use and does more. Good solid 808 style kicks. I sometimes combine it with the Tromso for a downsampled effect.
  • Bastl GrandPa - I have 909 samples loaded and use these from time to time. I love the sound of downsampling with Bastl does so well. I use the stock samples to find little transients or noise that I can manipulate into a high hat.

Other favorites: I’m using anything with a “Strike” input from Make Noise or the FM inputs to make percussion. PO-12. Moog Minitaur for kicks. The list goes on.


It’s much maligned online, but I really really love my Tempest. I was an early adopter back in 2011 and I still wouldn’t get rid of it. It’s almost modular in its flexibility – 5 envelopes, 8 x 8 mod matrix – but people seem to hate it because it’s not an 808/909. I’ve always found that it lends itself to experimentation and is not suited to those standard drum machine hits, most of which it has samples of built in. One of the main criticisms levelled at it is that people can’t load their own samples, but I assume that’s not an issue in this thread :smile:

It happens to be a really nice 6 voice poly too.


on the price of the vermona (@unexpectedbowtie), maybe I speak from a position of privilege, but I’d much rather have a few brilliant (and probably expensive) tools, than a lot of glorified toys.

I don’t want to knock cheap gear, but I’d rather have a Vermona kick than 4 teenage engineering POs. I’d rather have one UA Pultec eq, than a buttload of cheaper VSTs.

Chances are we all have access to a DAW with a complete package of plug-ins - anything else I invest in has to add real value.

Completely agree @simeon!

I’m onboard with live resampling as well - I don’t do it extensively but I come from the world of guitar effects so the workflow of a digital delay is right up my alley. I wish there was more of this in eurorack and electronic music production - Ableton goes a long way with their Looper but their Simpler falls short, IMO. I need to be able to record directly into the instrument - no file dropping or start/stopping. I want to be able to sit with an instrument in my hands and immediately sample without interacting with the software much. I really like the way the OP-1 does this, actually. You press a key and sampling starts once the sound level crosses a threshold. Its then immediately playable. So easy.

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