How to Record Drums with EZdrummer 3

EZdrummer 3 is a useful tool for recording drums quickly and easily. Find out how in our guide.

EZdrummer 3 is a drum production tool from Toontrack primarily designed for songwriters who need a simple way to record mix-ready drums without the hassle of booking recording space or the know-how to mike up and mix an acoustic drum kit.

EZdrummer 3 features a simplified interface compared to Superior Drummer 3, which is Toontrack’s pro-level drum production platform. That makes EZdrummer 3 great for recording demos that don’t need to be as polished as a commercial track, as well as DIY musicians who want to record quickly and easily.

Read on to learn how to record with EZdrummer 3 with this beginner’s guide, or check out our full EZdrummer 3 review and guide for using EZdrummer 3 with eDrums.

Can you record on EZdrummer 3?

Yes, recording drums with EZdrummer 3 is quick and simple. The best way to do this is to use EZdrummer 3 as a plugin within your preferred DAW (Digital Audio Workstation). With a DAW, you can record your drums from an eDrum kit via MIDI to a MIDI channel, and then record all other instruments as separate tracks within the same project.

If you’re a Mac user and new to recording audio, you can use Garageband, which is a DAW that comes free with all Macs. Learn how to connect your eDrums to Garageband here.

If you have Garageband on the iPhone or iPad, you might wonder if you can record using EZdrummer on iOS. Unfortunately, this is not possible – EZdrummer 3 is not available for iOS.

If you’re a PC user new to audio recording, then a good starter DAW is Reaper, which has a free version. Alternatively, some audio interfaces come bundled with cut down versions of commercially available DAWs such as Cubase or Pro Tools.

How to record drums with EZdrummer

The basic steps for recording drums with EZdrummer are:

  1. Open your DAW of choice (such as Garageband or Reaper)
  2. Create a new MIDI track
  3. Assign EZdrummer 3 as the Virtual Instrument to that MIDI track
  4. Open EZdrummer 3 within your DAW and assign the correct MIDI mapping preset under Audio/MIDI Settings
  5. Test that each drum and cymbal triggers correctly
  6. In your DAW, set the BPM for your song and turn on the metronome if you wish.
  7. Hit record and play your drum track. Remember, you can record each section of your track individually (more information on this below!)
Screenshot showing how to select a Roland eDrum preset in EZdrummer 3
EZdrummer 3 includes presets for most eDrums and the ability to create your own presets

Editing your drum recording with MIDI

One of the benefits of recording your drums using EZdrummer 3 over miking up a real drum kit is the ability to edit each take of your recording.

When recording a real drum kit using a DAW, it’s possible to record an entire song in several takes. For example, you might record three or four takes of the verse, but decide to take the best one and loop that take for each verse.

When recording with EZdrummer, you can take that editing even further. For example, what if you play a bum note on your best take. When recording a real kit, you’d need to record another take. With EZdrummer, you can open the MIDI editor within your DAW, and move the note to the correct place, or adjust the velocity of the note to the right level.

Another huge benefit of recording with EZdrummer is the ability to completely change your drum sounds after you’ve recorded the track. Say you record your drums, then guitars and bass, but find your snare drum just doesn’t suit the track, or the tuning just sounds off.

If you’d recorded the track with an acoustic kit, you’d need to record the drums all over again. With EZdrummer, because the recording is based on MIDI, you can change the snare drum completely with another one in the EZdrummer 3 package. All the velocity and timing information of how you played the drum will be retained, the only difference will be a different drum sample being triggered. On top of that, every drum in EZdrummer 3 can be tuned to help you choose a sound that cuts through the mix.

Screenshot showing the tuning and volume dials for a drum in EZdrummer 3
All drums and cymbals can have their tuning edited using a realistic tuning algorithm

And finally, if you’re a beginner drummer and struggle with timing, most DAWs feature a quantize function, which allows you to automatically adjust the timing of each beat. You can then make further editing via the MIDI editor if required.

Can you program drums with EZdrummer 3?

Not everyone wanting to record drums has an electronic drum kit, let alone a real drum kit. In fact, this is one of the use cases of EZdrummer, which allows non-drummers to record quality drum tracks.

EZdrummer includes a feature called Bandmate which can generate a drum track based on any audio file, for example, the guitar or bass track for your song. You can use this to generate a basic drum track, edit the intensity and complexity of the track, and even move different parts across the various instruments on a kit.

Another method is to use the included MIDI library, featuring various MIDI loops of drum grooves and fills. These can be found in the MIDI library, broken down by category, and can be dragged and dropped into the timeline either within your DAW’s main window, or in the EZdrummer 3 MIDI grid, which aligns to your track’s timing grid.

The EZdrummer 3 interface features a MIDI grid at the bottom.

And finally, you can even manually program all the drums yourself within the MIDI grid, though it’s a good idea to start with a similar beat as a starting point from the EZdrummer 3 library.

All in all, the MIDI editor functions can be a great way for non-drummers to record great drum tracks, or as a time saver for drummers. For example, I ‘recorded’ drums for a track with a former band using the first version on EZdrummer while on the train. I did this by recording one take of the verse and chorus at home, then editing my takes and looping them for each subsequent verse and chorus while on the move.

What are the alternatives to EZdrummer 3 for recording?

As you can see EZdrummer 3 is a great tool for recording drums quickly and easily. If you’re after a more pro-level solution, then you might want to compare EZdrummer 3 with Superior Drummer 3. Superior Drummer is a pro-level drum production tool, and is also compatible with eDrums.

There are plenty of other VST drum libraries out there from other brands, such as Steven Slate Drums and Get Good Drums.

Check out our guide on recording electronic drums for more information.

If you don’t already own EZdrummer 3, you can buy it directly from Toontrack. However, it’s sometimes possible to get EZdrummer and expansion packs for less at other retailers. Here are three EZdrummer 3 resellers to check:

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By Seb Atkinson

Seb has been a drummer since 2004 and an eDrummer since 2008. He founded eDrumHub to provide information on electronic drums for other drummers who can't justify an acoustic drum kit for practice at home.