Drumkits in Ardour 3.X

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 :wink: ) 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)


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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 Not an option if you dont wnat to use a hydrogen drumkit and also its no longer maintained.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

*LV2 not l2!

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.

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;


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.

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.

A little beside the point, however, best solution for my drum tracks so far has been Drum drops and hydrogen, clumsy to setup as an instrument though, really begs for a dedicated sampler.

Maybe try the DrMR plugin. Perhaps …


Old thread but things haven’t changed much…

Drumgizmo is the best bet currently but has some caveats… forget it about it altogether if you use a 32bit OS with less than 4gb of RAM, even with a PAE kernel the drumkit libraries are far too massive and leave no RAM for anything else, I hope to address this at some point in the future by creating a Drumgizmo kit of about 1GB in size…

DrumkV1 is fast and easy but doesn’t support velocity layers currently so you are stuck with 1 sample per kit piece, Currently Fabla is in the same boat but Fabla2 will support multisamples.

If you want to use a good SFZ format kit in Ardour with LinuxSampler or Carla there is the Salamander Drumkit which is hosted here:

In response to the Linux/Ardour ‘drum drought’ I multisampled my own acoustic kits and made libraries for Hydrogen and SFZ’s which can be used with LinuxSampler or Carla, these kits can be downloaded and there are demos on the webpage so you can hear how they sound. These kits are targeted for people looking for acoustic drums, and aren’t really suited to EDM etc. I realize they are not perfect and plan to make some further improvements to them this winter but I’ll let the demos on the webpage speak for themselves… I also have created Midnam’s for these kits so the proper Kit piece names appear when MIDI editing them in Ardour, the Midnams aren’t hosted yet but I can make them available if anyone is interested…

Lastly unfortunately the most realistic and effective way of getting good drum sounds without massive RAM consumption or CPU usage in Ardour (and I’m extremely picky) is to use the older Addictive Drums (v1.5.3) WindowsVST, When used in special WinVST builds of Ardour the plugin works very well on MIDI tracks and is quite stable. I know this is not a politically popular choice nor will most people choose to go this route but it really works for great drum sounds. As a side note the future 32bit release of AV Linux in 2016 will provide an additional ArdourVST build that does this OOTB (without Addictive Drums of course), however the 64bit release will not… just sayin’

drumgizmo crashes on windows 7 Ardour 32 bit…

no versions of either piece of software.


Also important is where it crashes. Considering that post follows one just above it that says drumgizmo just won’t work with a decent sized drum kit on a 32 bit kernel, which if you are using a 32 bit application I would first want to confirm if that was contributing to it. If the plugin opens but doesn’t load a drum kit or crashes in loading that would be the first place I would look.

Of course I don’t use drumgizmo myself so can’t help much beyond that.


@seablade who said: " If the plugin opens but doesn’t load a drum kit or crashes in loading that would be the first place I would look."

am in this very case, but can’t figure out where is that first place… Could you please help?


Does a smaller drumkit work fine?

GMaq is the one that is probably the best reference, but I would start with looking at memory usage and seeing if it jumps up to nearly 4GB before crashing, if it does I would wonder if there is a memory addressing issue, which is suggested by GMaq’s description above.


Thanks seablade, it seems no problem with a smaller kit (minimal DG one), but there is 8 GRam in this 32b machine. I can’t figure out where to start, but can live with it!!

Generally 32-bit systems can only use 4GB of RAM maximum – that might be part of your problem.

Close. A PAE kernel allows access to more than 4GB of ram, but each process space is limited to 4GB of Ram. This can be limiting for larger sample sets, which might be what is being run into here yes. Pretty much Ardour itself is limited to 4GB of RAM in that situation, and that includes for all of it’s plugins as well as for it’s own internal usage. Not sure how large the drumkit we are talking about is honestly, but it has to compete with all the other memory using process of Ardour itself and other plugins for that 4GB of space.


Right - forgot about PAE. Sorry to confuse your conversation :).

@adotm: no problem, you lead somewhere… thanks!
@seablade: have had an exchange sometimes ago with one of the Drumgizmo devs, who said that at least 16GRAM is required for the full kit… It seems I’ve got to go to AVL64bits, do you think so?