Samples used over drums in studio mixes


Senior Member
I've seen a lot of videos recently of sound engineers and producers showing how they mix drums. Most of the time they say that they put samples over the actual drums that have been played. This means that the drum sound on the recording is not the one of the kit used in the studio. So my question is, doesn't this make all the conversations on this forum about which drums to use, which woods/metal etc, how to tune them, what heads to use, and how to mike them etc totally meaningless if a whole new sound is stuck on top of it? What are your thoughts?


Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
I wouldn't agree that "sound replacement" happens most of the time, but it's a useful tool that's available when necessary. Sometimes a drum sounds good on its own, but doesn't quite work in the mix. The opposite can be true as well.

But drum sounds are important, because not every 'gig' is in the studio, where sounds are held to a different standard. Live playing accounts for the majority of what most drummers do, and that's where a drum's actual sound is more likely to be heard with a minimum of processing. The exception would be where the drums are triggered, and those sounds are blended with - or occasionally replace - the acoustic sounds, but those are the minority. I know of very few drummers who use triggers.



Gold Member
The use of drum samples depends on the band, the producer, and to some extent, the band manager.

Good examples are Def Leppard and AC/DC. These two bands had platinum albums produced by Mutt Lange (Pyromania & Back in Black). Back in Black does not use samples, but Pyromania uses drum samples along with heavily processed vocals. Both bands had albums previously produced by Mutt Lange, too, so at some point Def Leppard agreed to used samples.

If the 80s are any indication, once Pyromania went platinum, many bands copied their production process.

The fact that AC/DC kept their sounds “real” is why I like them so much. Plus they rocked harder than anyone at that time.

Read more about it here.

As far as live performances go, I have a couple friends who drum in speed metal/hard core metal bands and they use samples on their kick & toms to get a fast, cutting punch that is heard better in the house mix. They don’t care, ‘cuz it’s about the music, not the purity of the drum sounds.