Tips and tricks for heavy drums

Do you have any tips how to get that extra punch on sampled drums? S2400s ringing on samples is beautiful, however drums doesn’t sound that heavy like from SP1200. Is there any way to make them sound better?


I like to boost the gain in the track settings, gives a nice punch

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I honestly feel that one of the biggest misconceptions around having good sounding/feeling drums with warmth and punch is that having a machine like an SP-1200 or S2400 will automatically do that for you. I can’t tell you how many times the Instagram algorithm has fed me a video of someone who has bought and assembled an insanely expensive setup, complete with an SP-1200 that they obviously bought for $7K+ and their drums sound like cardboard. Two dimensional, flat and flaccid. 9/10 the drums are weak or if they do sound solid, they’re from a sound pack.

I’ve owned an SP-1200, an S950 and the MPC-3000 (which I still own and just can’t let go of). I now own the S2400. I sample all of my drums from vinyl and I can honestly tell you that I’ve made drums that I absolutely love and can’t do without with each machine. With the S2400 I’ve been making some of my best drums in a loooooong time. The best tip/trick that I can pass on to you is to look at your signal flow. What kind of turntable/cartridge are you using? What about the mixer/cabling? Are you doing any EQ’ing, processing prior to putting the sound into the machine?

These are all super important questions that I ask myself when I’m making a new drum library….which I’m actually in the middle of doing now, in fact. Since ‘06 I’ve always had an SP-303/404 in my signal chain, processing drum sounds prior to them touching my 3000/Maschine/Ableton/MPC Live/S2400. Because that’s what pushes them over the top. A machine like the S2400 will put that finishing touch on them for me and deliver that ‘thump’ that I’m sometimes looking for.

But just like any other machine, I like to say that the better the sound that’s going into the S2400, the better the S2400 will make it sound. Like a lot of older machines, it adds this kind of ‘butter’ to samples that just can’t be reproduced in a DAW or newer standalones.

For a cartridge, at the moment, I’m using a Nagaoka MP-110 and 150. For some of my processing I’m using an SP-404 Mk2 and I have a couple of outboard compressor/eq situations that I like to run the sounds through (depending on what I’m going for) and then dump them into the S2400. Like most vintage and newer gear…nothing is going to really do it all. But this thing does do a damn good job at getting close.


PS…I hope my answer didn’t come off condescending, my friend! Turning up the gain on individual channels in the machine is absolutely a must, too!


I assume you use the effects of the 303/404 in the sampling process? Could you expand on what you like to use? Also any thoughts on what might be comparable in terms of rack mount effects? Im happy with my small synth collection, I’d like to expand my studio a bit in terms of beefing up recording and mixing.

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So, I think it’s kinda important for me to note that nothing in my setup is ‘fixed’. Getting away from that has been really freeing but also helped me with coming up with results that I’m more pleased with. I think that’s especially kinda key when it comes to sampling sounds. So, I move things around in the signal chain from time to time, depending on what’s being necessitated…like if the recording quality of a record I’m sampling needs a little cleaning up.

Essentially, I try to have the sounds I’m sampling be as close to being ‘there’ as I can get them PRIOR to them hitting their final destination…in this case the S2400. I know a lot of folks like to just throw things in the machine and then worry about that when sounds are recorded out and mixed. Both approaches yield good results, but I just really like making a beat and having it be as close to being ‘mixed’ or ‘processed’ as I can get it before it’s recorded out. One of my early mentors produced for Aftermath and he mentioned that this was how Dre works with his 1200 (all of his drums get run through one or two at some point) and then into the 3000. They were being run through compressors/eqs in between the sampling units. This way they are already processed before going into ProTools and not being ‘flattened’ as much by chains of plugins. Saving all these drums also gives you a drum library of ready to go sounds. I kinda adopted that approach.

I don’t wanna give away all my secrets (hahaha) but I will say that the 303/404/MK2’s isolators and choruses are excellent for expanding upon desired frequencies. The cassette sim on the MK2 is excellent for beefing up sounds, too. The fact that they are kinda low budget adds to it in a positive way, in my opinion. They also serve as a ‘trap’ for the sounds…I can loop them, keep them going round and then either apply further internal fx from the MK2 or knob twist on whatever I’m using to color/shape the sounds prior to them hitting my S2400. Also, most of my drums are saved/live on a dedicated SD Card for the MK 2. I may use the same kick or snare multiple times but this way I can process them different.

I would definitely look into getting some 500 series units for this purpose. I like to keep a transient master on the table and put a high pass filter to use (physically and in the MK2) to really add some thump, but it’s not what I always want.

I also think it’s worth pointing out that this is essentially the same process that folks would take with the S950 to SP-1200 approach or the S950 to MPC-3000 approach (a lá DJ Premier), just with different more modern tools and effects. Fun fact, my black MPC-3000 is from Preemo’s second HeadQcouterz studio. I got it from Absaloot (AB3) from Group Home’s crew.

Hope that provides some insight!


I would like the ability to stack 4 sounds per pad. At least that’s what I’ve been doing with my 2500 so I can layer a kick and get that knock!


The ASR10 is thee sampler that ive heard that knocks. More than anything ive ever played. The kicks just boom heavy outta the speakers


YES! I actually don’t feel that the team at ISLA needs to do too much more. Some folks are begging for FX and I don’t think this is that kind of machine, to be honest. This machine is, in many ways, reminding me of my 3000, especially with the minimal effects.

I WOULD really like the ability to trigger multiple pads just by tapping one. Even if it could only trigger two other pads, like the 3000, that would be just fine. Stacked drums in this machine sound incredible and removing several steps to do that would make for a much more enjoyable workflow.


Thank you all for being active in this topic, especially @malikabdulrahmaan. Loads of information.

And back to your questions Malik…
I have Technics SL1200 MK2, all cables are proel or neutrik, little Tascam M06 mixer (I’m thinking about investing in tube phono preamp instead of it). I do own ART PRO VLA 2 TUBE compressor and SPL Vitalizer MK2T. I really like how they colour the sound. I’m giving that extra punch to snare with compressor, and some boost to lows on samples or bass using SPL Vitalizer. Depends what I need. And I have them connected between Sampler and interface in my chain. That helps me to crank a bit my drums. And I sample only from records recently. More and less known drum brakes. I did even put SPL Vitalizer between turntable and S2400 and it doesn’t always do the good job. Like it would be to much to handle for S2400.

And when I’m comparing 2 same drum brakes, same eq, singl, ect… Sampled in to MPC 60 and S2400 I always like MPC 60 more. Samples and ringing S2400 no doubt, but drums MPC 60 definitely.

And to be honest I never heard shit drums coming from SP1200. I don’t know who you listen to :slight_smile:

I do have other sampler like S950, S1000, S3000, SP202, ASR10 and they all sound different. I used to resample in the past a lot, because I wasn’t really familiar with MIDI stuff, however I have done my homework and I’m more confident in syncing different machines. Resampling is cool, but sometimes you can have too much flavour because of that.

Now I try to use 8 outs from machines I want to use without any resampling and just treat everything with compressor and Vitalizer. I mix everything in Harrison Mixbus 32c. I do use some plugins, but I try to keep them to minimum. Some reverbs, delays, drum character, ect. Still don’t have really great skill in mixing drums. I really like parallel compression and I probably use it to much getting that extra boost but loosing sound separation.

Even after all that sound manipulations I feel like drums coming from S2400 that’s not the best what this machine can give us. No hate at all. Love it like my other gear. Probably that’s why I didn’t sell it and got myself SP1200.


Hey hey!

I’m really glad that you identified something that will address that issue for you! And your observation is completely valid. You know, I’m getting a Rossum 1200 (mainly for nostalgia’s sake) and am going to be in the fourth batch. In the early days of online markets (‘02-‘03) I bought one that was in absolutely awful condition, cosmetically, and eventually gave it to a friend…thinking that it would be easier to get one later down the road, should I ever want one again. How wrong was I?? Hahaha! While I don’t know if I’ll be using it a whole bunch (it’s more of an investment/reclamation of a piece lost) I will say that I like how the aliasing affects samples more in that machine….but that’s just my opinion.

All of this is so subjective but one thing that I will say is that, personally, sampling my drums and bass into the S2400 through the mono inputs and not the L+R combined yields the results that I desire. Having the option to have samples in stereo on top of mono drums has been such a godsend for me.

As for folks who use the SP-1200 and have weak drums/beats, sheesh….just search #sp1200 in IG. There are easily as many examples of weak drums as there are drums that knock. It’s such a perfect example of owning something not guaranteeing that it will be used effectively.

Looking forward to hearing how you integrate the 1200.

Peace :v:t6:

I always try to find solutions and squeeze as much as I can from the gear I’m owning before I switch to something else. And it’s always good to share knowledge and experience. I know it’s like selling in one minute things we were figuring out sometimes even long months, however I think that’s essential because it speeds ups learning process and we all learn all life.

I’ll probably wait year or two for Rossum. It’s over 1k more expensive here in UK (custom and taxes). And I don’t have any more room for extra gear. My girlfriend would be happy if I sell my 60, 4000 and S2400 and replace it only with Rossum SP1200, However I just cannot get rid off them that easily.


This has been an enlightening thread, thanks all for sharing some great tips! :+1:t3:

I am used to processing stems with plugs after recording. Having a 404 next to my 2400 could be a more fun workflow and great way to build up my own library.

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This is making me wonder what hardware (500 series or rack) people like to use for tracking samples. I have a couple of pieces of nice hardware, but pretty much just for my mix bus once everything is finished… I think I might like an overstayer modular channel for sampling drums through though.

I don’t care about the brand or model, meaning I’m happier if I can achieve a sound using a DAW. ISLA does speed up my work process, because it adds a bit of knock.
First, most people who have issues with drum samples, should probably switch to mono samples and stop stacking several samples with low frequency content.
Second, its a good idea to open the sample in an audio editor, to see visually if something is wrong.

I’m thinking of getting a SP404 as well. Is it best to beef your sounds/drums before sampling into the S2400 or after? Can see an Sp404 useful for adding FX’s and resampling, and then sequencing in Isla S2400. But then I also see benefit of doing the same to the stems on the output. Perhaps reducing the need for a DAW until mastering stage.


Process eq and other fx on the sp 404 and/or other gear before sampling into the s2400 is my way ! Test and like it heheheha