Drumkits in Ardour 3.X

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User offline. Last seen 41 weeks 6 hours ago. Offline
Joined: 2013-09-21

Hi to all

I'm trying to find old posts about this topic but most of the discussions are still about Ardour 2.X versions, so I'm writing this trying to make a new entry for other users with the same issue.

I'd like to handle midi drums with ardour. So far I've been recording real drums (even though I'm not good enough on playing drums ;) ) or Hydrogen via Jack sync and audio return, but I guess there are lots of other different solutions, so I'll ask: how are you fixing the lack of drum machines in Ardour 3.X? (I don't want to discuss here if it's something good or bad, only to examine the alternatives.

These are my ideas, feel free to add more:

1# Using a drum machine via Jack synchronisation

2# Using an external drum machine via Ardour's Midi out (how can I do that, for example with Hydrogen?)

3# Using a drum machine as a VSTi, LADSPA, LV2 or AU plug-in (is there any drum plug-in in Ardour by default? How can I install and use a VST plug-in? Which ones do you prefer?)

4# Using audio samplers as a loop sequence (imho a waste of time... does anybody use it successfully? )

5# Using a sequencer with audio samplers (I know there are no step sequencers in Ardour, I'm writing it just for being exhaustive)


User offline. Last seen 3 weeks 5 days ago. Offline
Joined: 2010-12-16

Have you tried out drumgizmo? It's an LV2 drum plugin. There aren't a lot of drumkits for it at the moment but that should improve with time -


mendred's picture
User offline. Last seen 3 weeks 5 days ago. Offline
Joined: 2010-01-16

hi there,

I currently use the composite sampler l2 plugin to drive a custom hydrogen drumkit using ardour midi track. It does require xml editing to setup - but its also very easy to use once done and is very lightweight and recognises velocity. Not an option if you dont wnat to use a hydrogen drumkit and also its no longer maintained. I might consider migrating to drumgizmo on that basis. Also If you need to change the mix, you do need to disable the plugin and go to hydrogen and change the instrument mix and then save against the drumkit rather than the song (there is a check box in the drumkit properties) - i usually keep a hydrogen session open for this purpose in the background. When you change the mix re-enable the plugin - sounds cumbersome but faster than it sounds esp. if you have already setup your drumkit the way you want upfront.

The problem with the above is that composite has only a stereo output as far as I can see, so if you to do things like sidechaining the bass into the kick, you really don't have seperate tracks to work with.

You could simply choose to control hydrogen via midi (connect your midi tracks midi out to hydrogen's midi in and hydrogen's audio tracks back to ardour. This way you can have multiple tracks - one for each drum instrument under your control.

Song sample here

mendred's picture
User offline. Last seen 3 weeks 5 days ago. Offline
Joined: 2010-01-16

*LV2 not l2!

User offline. Last seen 3 days 10 hours ago. Offline
Joined: 2009-04-30

I do it with several plugins.

samplers as drumsynths

Samplers :

DrMr : This one loads Hydrogen drumkits, wich can be very handy. https://github.com/nicklan/drmr/wiki
drumkv1: http://drumkv1.sourceforge.net/drumkv1-index.html

Drumsynth, this is a synth for drumsounds, but electronic orientated.

All this are available as lv2 or lxvst via kxstudio. Maybe also other linux distributions.
If you use debian or ubuntu you can add it via repository

There are stepsequencer plugins. example b-step sequencer, but it's not free.

User offline. Last seen 1 week 3 days ago. Offline
Joined: 2008-10-19

I used a lot Tapeutape, it's a little time to build your library, but then it does the job to produce sounds from an A3 percussive MIDI track to an audio track;


User offline. Last seen 29 weeks 1 day ago. Offline
Joined: 2007-11-16

Another vote for Drumgizmo. I was using the Aasimonster kit with great success for death metal / grindcore tracks.

Our drummer had to cancel a show because of problems with his back and we programmed drums with Ardour 3. Then we mixed everything down to 6 tracks (Kick, Snare, Toms left, Toms right, Overheads left, Overheads right) and sent those to the mixer. Everything worked really well and it did sound great. If we had more time, the drum track would've been better.

Modeler's picture
User offline. Last seen 4 days 10 hours ago. Offline
Joined: 2014-03-27

Interesting post, sounds like we have the same problem as me. I have been trying to achieve this for a while now and my frustration led to this post:


Someone mentioned drumkv1 as an LV2 plug-in. This almost solved all my problems, but it too is currently broken in Adour (works fine in Qtractor):


Okay, Qtractor and drumkv1 were written by the same guy but it's not the only LV2 plug-in I've had problems with. DrMr seems horribly unstable and has killed my session within minutes of loading it up.

I will definitely have a look at DrumGizmo though. One thing I like about Ardour is the "Note Mode" option, set to "Percussive" for Hydrogen-esque pattern editing. I was looking forward to making a video tutorial along the lines of how to set up Ardour for an FL Studio type workflow, but I can't seem to get all the necessary bits to work well enough for there to be any point. I'm sure this will change though.