Each pad in Sensory Percussion can be outfitted with one or many samplers, and each sampler is designed to play, edit, and process many samples. To add a sampler to a pad, simply drag a sample or multiple samples from the Sample Library onto that pad, and a sampler module will appear. The sampler accepts WAV, AIF, OGG, FLAC, and MP3 files.
You can also add a sampler to a pad by selecting that pad and pressing the “+” button at the top of the right panel (when the “audio” tab is selected). You can add samples to the sampler by dragging them into its bottom window or directly onto the pad.
To add more than one sample to a sampler, click on the first sample like you normally would, but hold down the alt key to select any additional samples before dragging them onto a pad or sampler. If you wish to select many samples in a row, you can click on the first sample and then hold the shift key down while clicking on the last sample in the row.
It is sometimes helpful to have more than one sampler on a pad. By grouping samples on different samplers on the same pad, you can create complex sounds that operate independently from one another. For example, you can have one sampler be excluded from blends, or pan samplers hard left and right.
The volume knob of the sampler affects all of the samples within that sampler. Each individual sample can be mixed within the sampler by selecting the sample and adjusting its gain. All of the gains are defaulted to 0 dB – their full recorded level - but can be increased by up to 12 decibels, so careful you don’t clip! (If you want to clip, try using the Clipper effect. It will give you a more predictable result.)
Like the volume knob, the sampler’s pan knob affects the entire sampler. Individual samples can be panned by selecting the sample and dragging the pan number box up for right and down for left (or by entering in a number value ranging from -100% left to 100% right).
Choke and Retrig
Just like a drum machine, samplers can be added to choke groups. When a sampler in a choke group is activated, it will stifle other currently-sounding samplers in its group. In Sensory Percussion, choke groups work across pads and even across drum tracks. Choke groups are especially helpful for musical gestures like open hi-hats, as well as layering tonal elements on separate samples over percussive elements.
To create a choke group, right click on the text box labeled (choke). Enter a title into the text box and then hit enter. Next, navigate to a sampler on a different pad and click on its textbox and select the choke group from the drop down menu.
Adding a sampler to a choke group will remove that sampler from blends by default. This is because samplers in the same choke group on pads of the same drum will stifle each other if the pads are blended and choked samplers included in blends. Excluding choked samplers from blends allows stacked, unchoked samplers to behave percussively, while tonal elements (in choke groups) to be stifled if their choke group is activated.
Like choke, retrig is a way of silencing sounds, but it functions at the sampler level, whereas choke groups work across pads and drum tracks. When retrig is selected, each new hit of a pad will silence the previous sound from the sampler.
The stop button is there to shut off any long samples or loops sounding in your sampler. You can click it, or drag over any controller to choke the sound without having to add it to a choke group. There is also a global stop button on the master channel which functions the same way, but for all of the samplers in your kit.
Velocity Input/Output Panel
The Velocity I/O Panel allows you to control the ratio between the input velocity and the output volume of the sampler. This tool is useful in many scenerios:
Sometimes you might want to have a sample play the same volume regardless of how hard you play. Say you are going for a vintage pad-based drum machine sound, you might not want the sampler to be sensitive to the velocity of your playing, since those machines had little-to-no sensitivity for input velocity. In that case you would drag the bottom dot up to the top dot. Now the sampler will sound at its maximum volume regardless of how loud or how soft you play.
You can also use the Velocity IO Panel to filter out soft playing and/or cross-talk. By dragging the bottom dot to the right, only higher velocity hits will activate the sampler. This is useful when you are building kits with choked tonal elements. Sympathetic vibrations from one drum will sometimes cause another drum to vibrate - while this is how sound works in the real world, it can cause pads to activate at low volumes. This sympathetic vibration is one of the things that makes Sensory Percussion great, because you can make electronic elements react in an acoustic manner. But sympathetic vibration can be a problem if you have long samples in a choke group, since even a low volume activation will choke whatever sampler is currently sounding. By dragging the bottom dot to the right, your tonal elements will be activated more deliberately, because the cross-talk is essentially gated out.
The opposite technique works, as well. Let's say you only want the sound of your acoustic drums when you play loudly. Drag the upper right dot to the left to make the sampler ignore high-velocity hits.
In the top right corner of each sampler is a checkbox labelled Blend. This feature allows a sampler to be removed from a blend, which is especially helpful when you are building a Kit with both harmonic or melodic and percussive elements. It usually feels natural to blend percussive elements across the drum, but harmonies and melodies become cluttered when they are blended and overlayed, which is why we recommend choke grouping all of your tonal pads. Check out the kits in the Tonal Kits.sps to see this technique in action.
With Sensory Percussion, you have a selection of two powerful pitch shift control methods at your fingertips. If tails is left unselected, each new hit will trigger a potentially new pitch, simultaneously overlapping the previous previous pitch and creating harmonies based on your playing. If tails is checked, the pitch of all the triggered samples will change based on your playing.
We like to explain it in real world terms: consider difference between a rototom and a set of many toms. If you are playing many toms, to change pitch you would play a different drum for each note, striking more than one drum at a time to create harmony between the toms.
But to change pitch on the rototom you would crank the drumhead’s tension up or down. In this analogy, tails off is the many tom’s version and tails on is the rototom example.
Just like pan and volume, pitch can be controlled at the sampler level - this would affect the pitch of all samples in the sampler. Pitch can be controlled by any of the three controller types.
To quantize the sampler to a scale you can select the quantize pitch button and then choose the scale you want. By default the chromatic scale is selected. You can also choose custom and add the intervals you want to include in your scale. Most importantly, remember to drag a controller to the pitch number box and edit its range in the controllers panel to actually engage the pitch control.
A sine LFO has been assigned to the pitch number box in the image above. The scale is then toggled between chromatic, major, minor, and custom.
Start and Length
When samples are added to the sampler you will notice that the waveform picture changes. That is because the image is updated to show the waveform of all of the individual samples in the sampler. You can change the start and end points of the sampler playback by adjusting the Start and Length knobs.
Attack and Hold
Do you want the sampler’s sound to play right when you strike the drum and fade out quickly? Or would you like it to fade in and out with every hit? Adjustments to the attack and hold knobs make edits like that possible. Of course controllers can be assigned to those knobs, too.
Enable looping by clicking the loop button to its “on” position, or by dragging a controller to it. The looper defaults to loop infinitely, but you can change that by entering a number into the box beside it. The length of the loop is determined by the length of the sample, and so interesting pulses and echo-like effects can be created by adding controllers to the length or pitch of the looped sampler.
The reverse feature plays the stacked sounds in your sampler backwards. Simply click it to its on position to enable it as a static effect, or drag over a controller to turn it on and off with your playing.
Individual sample controls
In order to remove any dead space that may occur before the transient or after the tail of samples in your sampler you can use the sample editor.
Click on the little scissors to the right of the sample name and zoom in on the waveform by dragging the vertical scroll bar up. Frame the sample to exclude any dead space or unwanted sounds by dragging the yellow foreground around the sound you want.
Some samples in your library may have been recorded louder or softer than others. Rather than adjusting the volume of every single sample in the stack, which can be a tedious process, you can normalize some of the prominent samples in the stack. Normalizing a sample brings its volume to the maximum level before clipping, so be careful not to normalize too many samples in a stack or else you might peak. To normalize click on the “N” to the right of the trim icon.
mute, solo, remove
When building sample stacks, it helps to employ mute, solo, and discard controls to help pick samples. Take a look at how those controls work:
All, cycle, rand, control
Sensory Percussion has four methods of playing stacked samples. The default method for playback is all, which means that every sample in the stack sounds all at once with every hit. But, if cycle is checked, Sensory Percussion will cycle through the sample stack in order. If rand is checked, a random sample will sound with each stroke. And if control is selected, controllers in Sensory Percussion can be assigned to govern the playback order - for example - a Center-to-Edge timbre controller can be assigned to manipulate the order of sample stack’s playback.
Vol, pan, pitch
Each sample's volume, stereo location, and pitch can be controlled underneath the sample stack. Simply click on a sample in the stack and then adjust any of these parameters. For simplicity's sake these parameters are not controllable, so if you want to control any of these parameters on a specific sample, just load that sample into a new sampler and drag a controller onto that entire sampler's vol, pan, or pitch parameter.