Lesson 17: Impulse and Drum Racks

This course is all about drums and percussion with Live’s Impulse and Drum Rack Instruments. They each have pros and cons, but both are awesome. By learning the aspects of both, and when to use one or the other, you’ll become a more well-rounded audio engineer or music producer. This course will take a closer look at both.

Impulse was first introduced to Ableton Live in version 4 as a welcomed companion to Simpler, giving producers the ability to add MIDI sequencing for the first time. Though overshadowed by its more powerful counterpart, Drum Rack, its quick sound design capabilities can often be just what a producer needs. Even if it lacks the same in-depth flexibility as Drum Rack, Impulse still deserves attention for its ease of use and the breadth of sounds it can generate quickly.

Drum Rack differs in that they are tailored towards drums and percussion and are compliant with the General MIDI Percussion Key Map. This way your drum performance will stay the same no matter what preset kit you use. Even better, you can add up to 128 sounds into each Drum Rack – with so much potential there is no limit to what your perfect kit can be! The search for a deep, flexible instrument ends with Drum Rack!

Your homework assignment will be to create your own drum rack. Start by creating six Pads and making sure these are in line with the GM suggestions. From there, you can add as many pads as you like but do make sure that all are labeled clearly so that it’s easy to find your way around within it. Last, you will need to Set up 2 Return chains in your Drum Rack–one for reverb and the other for the delay–and route the return either directly to the main mixer or keep them within the Drum Rack itself.