Drum Layering in Native Instruments Battery

Learn how to manipulate and process drum sounds using Native Instruments Battery.

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Layering drum sounds in a hardware sampler is the traditional approach to layering drum samples and it has stood the test of time for decades. Sound designers and producers still sample and process using hardware samplers as the interactive process is both fun and quite intuitive. In the days of spandex and big hair hardware samplers were used not only to sample but to trigger the samples in a musical context. In effect they were used as instruments. However, sampling and processing technology was still in its infancy and users were constrained with limited sample memory and basic processing tools. Nowadays we do not have any of those constraints as we predominantly work in the virtual domain. DAWs have replaced workstations, hardware sequencers and samplers. Hardware samplers are still the rage and most of today’s hardware samplers have a front end for playback and triggering and a backend that is software driven for editing and processing. But some people like to work exclusively ITB (in the box) and software manufacturers have been quick to capitalise on this by creating seriously powerful software for us budding songwriters and producers to use and one area that has seen a migration from hardware to software is that of the soft sampler.

A soft sampler is simply a software based sampler. The tactile instant sample and trigger thinking cannot be applied to soft samplers as they do not have a front end for recording samples. Instead, the DAW’s soundcard takes over the duties of recording and all editing is done within the soft sampler. However, where soft samplers are a better choice to their hardware counterparts is in editing and processing. With hardware samplers that do not have a software backend the user was limited to use whatever processes the sampler provided. With soft samplers the user can record, edit using a multitude of inbuilt and third party plugins, and process to any format and at any resolution.

Native Instruments Battery

One of the most popular and successful samplers available on the market is Native Instruments Battery. Battery is a dedicated drum sampler/module. It allows for the import of samples and offers extensive editing and processing tools.

To list the features of Battery would take a few pages so I will condense it here for ease of readability.

Battery’s GUI is divided into three sections, comprising the Master Section, the Sample Matrix and the Edit Pane. The Master section is where both global functions are addressed and the supplied drum kits are managed. The Sample Matrix maps out the Cells containing the samples into columns and rows and these can be moved around to suit the user’s workflow. The Edit Pane is where sample management and editing takes place. There are extensive editing tools both globally and at kit and sample levels. You can layer samples in cells, shape samples using all manner of dynamic tools, create specific kit behaviours for use with live drums, import Propellerheads Recycle slices (REX) and edit and trigger them…..and..on..and on and on. By now I am sure you are aware that I love Battery and its intuitive interface that makes layering drum sounds easy and fun.

In the video I show you how to import and layer drum sounds in Battery. I explain how to use the various cell tools to shape each drum layer. I explain how you can create custom keyspans for the cells. I show you how to use the built-in dynamic tools to further shape the samples and kits.

Plugin used in this video:

NI Battery

Topics covered in this video are:

  • Learn how to Layer drums in a Soft Sampler
  • Understanding Cells and how to use them for Layering in Battery
  • Sample manipulation and triggering
  • Making the best use of your Soft Sampler’s Dynamic Tools