The perfect dry 70s feel

Before the huge snares and gated reverb of the mid to late 80s, a more intimate and upfront sound prevailed — you can hear it across the songs recorded by Earth, Wind & Fire, Dire Straights, Eric Clapton, and countless other groups that were instrumental to the music of the 70s. The kick and snare were crisp, always clearly on the beat, yet the rhythm of the drums always managed to stay loose and free despite being completely in the pocket. We painstakingly focused on emulating every detail of this in how we recorded, edited, and processed every single drum sample in Virtual Drummer LEGEND ... and after countless hours of work behind the scenes, we feel we finally nailed it. Read on to see if you agree!

LEGEND’s bedrock is its massive collection of 690 playable MIDI phrases, spanning a wide variety of styles — and with Virtual Drummer’s MIDI Drag & Drop feature, as usual you can pull the MIDI into your session and instantly modify it to your liking. We’ve even included fills, ornaments like paradiddles and rolls, and tons of other accents to bring your drum grooves to life. If you never want to start from scratch again but loops aren’t doing the job for you, LEGEND has everything you need to create full, authentic vintage drum parts for your next big hit.

Drum Kits

To get as close to this vintage drum sound as possible, we dampened the drum heads, close mic’d everything, and ensured the room was as dry as humanly possible to leave only the sound of the drums themselves — the same strategies used by engineers and drummers on some of the biggest records of the time. An added benefit of sucking all this space out of the recordings is that you have far more flexibility to add your own processing and shape LEGEND however you like! No massive spaces or hanging resonances for you to tame and work around.

Virtual Drummer LEGEND comes with samples from 5 different drum kits, each with its own unique character, tone, body, tail, etc. — everything’s a little different, and you may find that a different kit gives your groove a whole new lease on life! When in doubt, start with Grand as this kit offers the best of all worlds and delivers on the promise of LEGEND with few surprises. For more ‘knock’, a woody smack, and tight transients, the Tight setting delivers. Go for Wild if you want a rounder & deeper kick, extra hiss in the cymbals, an airy tail on the snare, and paper-thin toms for a light groove that still has some weight.

The Thick kit puts all its emphasis on punchy, rounded transients and boasts a deeper tone in the kick and snare; this is perfect if you night a strong groove without it becoming too high-energy. Lastly, we have Loose: This kit is a bit different in that more of the room is baked into the recording, adding extra dimension and space and letting out the tail of the snare a bit more. When the drier kits aren’t quite broad enough, test this one out to see if a little more width & depth does the trick!

Mix presets

If you enjoy the sound of your chosen drum kit as-is, stick with the Dry mix preset and you’ll enjoy the full, bone-dry sound of the kicks, snares, hi hats, cymbals, toms, and more recorded for LEGEND dialed up to the max. To bring the kit up in the mix and ensure the drums stand up to all the other elements vying for attention, Slam is a good bet with its heavy compression and forthright punch. Want less bottom end and more high-end clarity? The Boost preset can provide the extra oomph and brightness you’re looking for.

Of course, you can also go the other way and tastefully slash away at the quality of the drums. Take Worn, for example: high frequency roll off, some extra harshness, and a little phasing to boot. Sometimes you might need a cheap, papery quality to your drums, and that’s exactly what this setting aims to provide! Tape is similar, though it possesses a warmer tone and fuzziness with a bit of compression, gluing the kit together while creating an even richer vintage feel. And if you want an all-around upgrade in definition, sizzle, and space that’s better-suited to modern productions, Hifi gets the job done every time.

You can blend in any of the Mix presets with the Amount slider to get the full effect or just a touch of coloration. Speaking of coloration, don’t miss the Dust slider, LEGEND’s Special Control; this provides a broad, gentle saturation and little ‘wear and tear’ without the bloating, melty sound you might be accustomed to with a lot of saturation effects. The result is a rich, full drum character that leans into LEGEND’s vintage roots and does everything a little more. Part of the magic behind Dust is how it seamlessly blends between 3 different direct microphone mixes, adjusting modern vs. vintage sound to taste. If you listen closely, you’ll also hear tighter transients, a more controlled body, and a satisfying taper off the end of each hit. There’s always room to add a little Dust!

Wrapping up

With the right miking and processing techniques, you can certainly get your own punchy and dry drums. Add some vintage saturation to the mix and you can get pretty close to the real deal. But unless you want to program in all the bits of stylistic flair and construct the exact processing chains you need for true 70s drums, you can save precious time in the production process and get an incredible result every single time with Virtual Drummer LEGEND.

We’ve already covered every aspect of tuning, editing, and cleaning up each kit and adding just the right amount of color and sparkle ... the only thing left to do is drop them in, choose the presets that work best for you, and tweak the rhythm to your liking. Your production quality and speed will never be the same!


About the Author

Harry Lodes is a copywriter, marketing consultant and content writer for audio and ecommerce brands. He lives in the Philadelphia area, releasing Eastern/Western hybrid EDM under the artist name KAIRI hearkening back to his roots in Berklee College of Music.