Session Drums Suite Manual
Thank you for checking out SD Suite! In this guide you'll find all the information you may need to use SD Suite, whether it's for basic use or for customisation and better understanding of internal MIDI and audio handling. On the bottom of each chapter that covers a device, there is a paragraph in which is explained what's inside the device that makes it work the way it does.
SD Suite is basically a toolbox that allows you to interact with Session Drums presets in a different and more convenient way. Use Push to insert or record notes into the Drum Rack sequencer with a clear overview of all the kit pieces by colour. Instead of setting velocity values manually in MIDI clips the old fashioned way, use simple Macros to control the velocity values that are sent into the Drum Rack in real time, or through automation. To add extra liveliness to the drums, you can let the Ghost Note Generator come up with ghost notes for you.
To start using SD Suite, unpack the .alp file somewhere in your User Library, or in one of your custom folders in Live’s Browser. From here you can easily access the project folder, unfold it, and import the desired presets into your existing project.
- The .alp file does not include the samples from the Session Drums packs. Therefore, make sure the packs are installed before using SD Suite.
- Only the Ghost Note Generator uses a Max for Live device: LFO MIDI.amxd. This plug-in is a modification of the Core Library LFO, allowing it live in a MIDI signal chain. The plug-in is included in the project folder.
The SD Suite project folder contains one demo project file, two presets for the SD Suite MIDI devices; one for users who own Max for Live, and one for the users who do not, and three folders containing all the presets for the three Session Drums packs.
Project folder and presets of SD Suite.
Using SD Suite
- Depending on whether you have Max for Live or not, drag one of the two SD Suite MIDI Devices presets (listed at the bottom) onto a MIDI channel.
- Option One: From one of the three SD Suite Kits folders, drag a desired drumkit onto the same MIDI channel.
- Option Two: From one of the original Session Drums packs, drag a desired preset onto the same MIDI channel. The upside here is that you can listen to previews of the presets, but the downside is that the presets do not have the corresponding coloured channels.
You're now ready to start playing.
Every now and then SoundSuite's devices receive updates.
To check if you're still on the latest version, right click SD Suite's project folder and click Show in Finder/Explorer.
Once the folder is revealed, double click the www-Check For Updates.url file.
Right click the project folder to reveal URL files in the Finder.
To ensure that all of SD Suite's devices will work correctly, it's best to keep the Drum Rack pads where they are, as otherwise you will have to change the mapping for all the other devices as well.
Please read the rest of the manual to find out where the MIDI routing happens inside all of the devices, so they can be modified accordingly.
There is also a video on YouTube where I explain how the very similar AD2 Suite works and how to make your own Drum Rack preset for Addictive Drums 2.
Info View and Macros
Hover over any of SD Suite’s Macros to reveal information about their usage in Live’s Info View.
Drum Rack device
Like the original presets of the Session Drums packs, the SD Suite presets contain up to 32 pads with Sampler instances for realistic drum sounds. Hitting the keys C1 - G3 will - depending on the velocity value of the note - trigger samples with corresponding intensities.
The C1 pad houses a Sampler device, containing a long recording of kicks with different intensities.
While in the Step Sequencer mode on Push, the bottom left 16 pads offer a collection of the main kit pieces so you can easily build the main beat. Switch to the 64 Pads mode to get access to all the other drum hits the presets have to offer.
In the images below you can see what each pad and color represents.
The Loop Selector mode with the step sequencer and 16 pads for the main kit pieces.
64 Pads mode with all additional drum hits.
What happens inside
The SD Suite Drum Rack presets are very similar to the original presets, the only difference being the coloured and organised channels, and the addition of 3 default return channels.
By default all chains contain an Instrument Rack with a Sampler device and an EQ8, where both have several parameters mapped to the 8 Macros for easy access.
A Drum Rack preset showing Macros for sampler device on the C1 pad.
It is good to be aware that several chains of snares and hihats are assigned to choke groups. This can be adjusted when the IO section is enabled.
A Drum Rack preset, showing that some of the snare chains are assigned to a choke group.
SD Intensity Control device
Each of the 8 macro knobs in this MIDI Effect Rack controls a Drive parameter of eight different Velocity devices which are mapped to the different kit pieces. You can automate these knobs like any other, or map them to physical knobs on a MIDI controller.
What happens inside
Once the “Show Devices” button is turned on, two Velocity effects and another MIDI Effect Rack are revealed.
- Floor/Ceiling - The purpose of this device is to raise the minimum of all incoming velocity values to 7, and lower the maximum to 120. The reason for this is that the Drive parameter only increases or decreases the velocity values when those values are not near to 0 or 127.
- Main Intensity - The Drive parameter has been mapped to the Main Intensity Macro knob, enabling you to increase or decrease incoming velocity values for all incoming MIDI notes at once. This provides control over the intensity of the entire drum kit, even if MIDI clips contain notes with velocity values close to 0 or 127, thank to the Floor/Ceiling device.
Intensity Control with devices shown.
Intensity Key Map
The Intensity Key Map MIDI Effect Rack houses seven Chains. On each chain (except the Kick) is another MIDI Effect Rack named MIDI Notes Filter, that filters out all notes that do not correspond with the kit piece at hand.
For this part, the Perc chain is used as an example:
There are 5 Chains inside the MIDI Notes Filter (Perc) device. This is because the notes that trigger the Perc are spread out over the Piano Roll, due to how the notes were mapped in Drum Rack. Because you can not split a key mapping Zone, multiple Chains and Zones had to be created in order to group all of the Perc notes together, so that the output will only contain the notes of the Perc. There are no devices inside the MIDI Notes Filter (Perc) device.
The remaining MIDI notes will pass through the Perc Velocity device of which the Drive parameter is mapped to the Perc Macro knob of the Intensity Key Map Rack device. That same Macro is then mapped to its parent Perc Macro.
This process is repeated for all the other kit pieces.
Intensity Control Key Map.
SD Random Control device
Since this device is an exact copy of the SD Intensity Control (with the exception of the Floor/Ceiling Velocity effect), there isn’t much explaining to be done. The only real difference is that each Macro Knob is mapped to its related Velocity Random parameter, instead of the Drive parameter.
The velocity value is randomised within the margin determined by the Macro. For example: if the input velocity is 60, and the Macro is set to 10, the output value for each individual note is a random number between 50 and 70. This results in a more dynamic drum sound as a larger variety of samples with different intensities are triggered in the Drum Rack device.
SD Ghost Note Generator device
By default the Ghost Note Generator does not generate any ghost notes. This is because the Max Velo(city) Macro’s have been set to 0. Increasing these values will determine what the highest possible velocity value will be for generated ghost notes, thus controlling the intensity of the added notes at the same time. The velocity values for the ghost notes will automatically be randomised slightly for a more realistic sound.
As 1/24 and 1/32 ghost notes are more scarcely generated by default, opening this Macro will increase the chance that these divisions are generated.
As the GNG generates its ghost notes using arpeggiators, a possible negative side effect is that you get a string of ghost notes, all playing in sequence. Disperse gets rid of this effect as every generated ghost note will go through a chance-based selector. The further you open the Macro, the more ghost notes will be dispersed.
This Macro randomises what kit pieces are triggered by generated ghost notes, thus inducing some form of chaos.
Ghost Note Generator.
There are two factors at play which determine what MIDI notes are allowed to generate ghost notes.
- The first factor is the length of the initial MIDI notes. If an initial note is long enough so that multiple 1/16, 1/24 or 1/32 notes fit in its length, it will enable ghost notes to be generated for the duration of the initial note. For example, an initial note with the length of 1/4 has room for 4 1/16, 6 1/24 or 8 1/32 notes. Which division is generated is random.
- The second factor is whether the kit pieces and division Chains are activated or not. This can be done in the Chain List, right of the Macro Knobs. Kit pieces that are not in the list are not able to generate ghost notes.
What happens inside
The Max for Live LFO MIDI device is what is causing the randomness. It is located in the Main Feed Chain, at the bottom of the list. The LFO modulates the Chain Selector at an a-musical rate, set to 0.64 Hertz. As the Chain Selector scrolls by, it generates 16th ghost notes all across at varying velocity values, while generating 24th and 32nd notes more rarely.
The Chance Increase Macro is mapped to the LFO’s Depth parameter. Turning the Macro narrows down the range of the Chain Selector, increasing the chance to generate 24th and 32nd notes for all enabled kit pieces. The LFO’s Rate also increases slightly as the Chance Increase Macro is turned clockwise.
The Max for Live LFO MIDI modulates the Chain Selector.
Inside the chains
All Chains but the Dry Chain contain an Arpeggiator with the Rate matching the Chain’s name. Whenever the Chain Selector scrolls by a Chain’s Zone, it are these arpeggiators that generate the ghost notes. Behind each Arpeggiator are three Velocity MIDI effects:
- Velocity Randomiser: sets the velocity value for all generated ghost notes to 64, and then fully randomises it between 0-127.
- Velocity Disperser: only lets through MIDI notes with a velocity value that falls within the allowed range.
- Velocity Max: determines the max output velocity value for the ghost notes, and slightly randomises the values for more realism.
This Macro is mapped to the Steps parameter of every Arpeggiator in GNG. The Distance parameter of the arpeggiators is set to +2 semitones. This means that for every generated ghost note (with the exception of the first ghost note), will be pitched up 2 semitones. The process re-triggers with every new initial MIDI note. Therefor, Displace (Chaos) has a stronger effect on long initial MIDI notes, especially 1/24 and 1/32 divisions, as they generate notes more frequently.
Each Chain contains a MIDI Notes Filter device (shown above), followed by an Arpeggiator and Velocity effects (shown below).
Using and Forwarding Send / Return Channels
The Drum Rack device contains 3 internal send/return channels. No effects have been loaded into them yet. You can either choose to keep them to work internally and use effects for the drumkit alone, or you can forward the audio signal to the project's main return channels. To do this, with the Chain List open, click on the I-O icon. Open the Return channels with the R icon. Now that the Return channels are in view, with the output menu on the right you can select to which Return channel you'd like to forward the signal.
If you need more or less Return channels, it is safe to add or delete them. It won't affect anything or require any additional setup.
Return channel routing inside the Drum Rack device.
LFO MIDI Workaround
If you do not own Max for Live, this means that the Chain Selector inside the Ghost Note Generator is not modulated as the LFO MIDI device is disabled. To counter this, modulation will have to be hand drawn inside an existing MIDI clip. An example is present in the “Basic beat” clip in the presets labeled “Without Max for Live”. Here’s how to do the workaround yourself:
- Open the Envelopes Box in the Clip Editor. In the Device Chooser menu, select SD Ghost Note Generator. In the Control Chooser, go for the Chain Selector, which is listed at the bottom.
The Envelopes Box in the Clip Editor.
- Next, unlink the Envelope from the MIDI clip and set the duration of the envelope to an a-musical length.
- Finally, draw the Envelope in a sawtooth fashion. Start at the minimum, and end at the maximum.
Unlinked envelope in the MIDI clip with an a-musical length. The line starts at 0, and ends at 127.
The Chain Selector now has a red dote next to it, showing that it is now automated. Once you trigger the clip, the Ghost Note Generator will now generate ghost notes as intended.
When the Chain Selector is automated correctly inside a MIDI clip, the result should be similar to the animation above.
Because the Chance Increase Macro is mapped to the LFO’s Rate and Depth parameters, this Macro will be disabled when Max for Live is not installed.
V1.0.1 (June 22, 2020)
- Updated the included LFO-MIDI plug-in.
V1.0 (October 16, 2019)