(approximately 30 minutes)

This DrumTrackHD Quickstart explains the basic concepts and working processes for Simple Is Beautiful's DrumTrackHD, drum-step sequencer for the iPad. Enjoy!

How do I:

NOTE: We strongly recommend doing the entire Quickstart, but if you are pressed for time, you can do them by topics. Indented topics require reading the entire chapter.

  1. First off, launch DrumTrackHD (DTHD).

    Start Screen

  2. The first time you launch it, you will see the Toolbar on top, Main Pattern Panel just below and Song Panel at the bottom.
    1. On top, the Toolbar contains the most critical interface items, like Drum Kit selection, BPM, Play/Pause/Reset, loading/saving Songs, connect the iPad Server, and buttons for all the panels.
    2. Just below, the Main Pattern Panel lets you create and edit the drum step sequences.
    3. On the bottom, the Song Panel allows you to create new patterns in the Pattern List (top row) and string together patterns instances into a song in the Song List (bottom row) that can be saved and exported.

Selecting a Drum Kit

  1. kit selection The current Drum Kit is permanently listed in the Toolbar display panel and can be changed by scrolling through the list with << and >> buttons.
  2. You can also specify a Drum Kit by touching the Drum Kit display, which opens the Kit Selection Panel shown below:

    kit selection panel

    This panel allows you to choose new Drum Kits without having to scroll through the entire list and is particularly useful for switching kits during live sets.
  3. Touch and drag to scroll down the list of kits. Drum Kits listed with an HD label are new Drum Kits specifically released for DrumTrackHD, usually with 16 tracks, but you can access DrumTrack8's older Drum Kits as well.
  4. Select TR-808.
  5. Select Close

Changing Pattern Length or Signature

SignatureIn the Main Panel's Pattern toolbar (on the top left), you have two dialogs that allow to control the pattern length and the signature.

NOTE: The default signature is 4/4 with 16 steps. If you prefer to change it, follow the steps bellow, but if you prefer working in 4/4, skip to the next topic.

The time signature (a.k.a. meter signature) is a notational convention used in Western musical notation to specify how many beats are in each measure and which note value constitutes one beat.

To change the Signature or pattern length, you can:

  • Select the top dialog (16) to type in the number of steps in your pattern, or
  • Select the bottom dialog (4/4) to access the interface below:
    PatternSignature Dialog
IMPORTANT: DTHD creates standard 4/4 patterns by default.
If you wish to create patterns with alternative signatures, create one with the desired signature and duplicate duplicate it in the Song panels' Pattern List window rather than create a new Pattern. (Top row window and its tools to the left)

Draw and Edit Steps

(Open the Pattern Panel by selecting the Pattern button in the Toolbar if it isn't already open)

Draw In the Pattern Panel, select the Draw icon to add steps in your pattern.

  • One click on a Step assigns the current mode value to a step; one click to a pre-assigned step erases the value.
  • By default, you are working in Volume (Velocity) Step Mode Velocity at maximum value (red Pattern Modifier Slider bar just above it).
  • You can modify values interactively with the Pattern Modifier Slider.
    • Select the red Level and touch or drag in the bar to the middle and release.
    • Notice that while you drag, the main toolbar dialog displays the current velocity value from 0 to 255.
    • When you draw steps again, they will be at this new value.
    • Try adjusting the value while drawing across several steps. You should get a gradient that appears in your steps that can vary from yellow(low volume) to red (high volume).
  • HINT: You can paint steps in multi-touch.

Select, Copy, Move, Merge or Delete Steps

    Select Select: To displace or copy steps or a selection, use the Select icon.
    Important: displacing or copying step(s) does so in all four Step Modes (Volume, Pan, Pitch, Offset) simultaneously.

    Try the following:

    • One click and drag to displace a step in any direction.
    • Use two fingers to define a rectangular Selection Set in the Pattern.
      • One Finger Drag to Move Selection (clears the original selection)
        • Once the selection is being dragged, you can toggle with a second finger tap to change the selection bounding box from:
          • blue (replace existing steps) to
          • orange (merge with existing steps)
        • Release the selection where you want it displaced.

      • Two Finger Drag to Copy Selection (leaves a copy of the original selection)
        • Note: Once the two finger drag has started, you can move the selection with just one finger.
        • Once the selection is being dragged, you can toggle with a second finger tap to change the selection bounding box from:
          • blue ( replace existing steps) to
          • orange (merge with existing steps)
        • Release the selection where you want it copied.

        Blue Selection       Orange Selection
        Blue = Replace Steps      Orange = Merge Steps

        WARNING: due the device's hardware limitations, touching the screen with two fingers too close to each other may be detected as only one touch, so space your fingers at least 1 fingertip-width apart!

      • Two Clicks duplicate the selection to the immediate right

      • Three Clicks clears a Selection

      • To Deselect your selection, do one of the following:
        • Select a step outside of the selection set
        • Change back to Draw mode.

Automate Step Processes?

We are going to explore the Automations Panel and Step Modes.

To open the Automations panel, select the Automation icon in the Toolbar. You should also have your Pattern Panel open .

DrumTrackHD's Pattern and interactive multiparameter track Automation Panels
DrumTrackHD Main and interactive multiparameter track Automation Panels

The Automations Panel allows you to to apply automated levels to a track or simply adjust the levels by drawing directly on the interactive display.

  1. Select a Track by selecting its Title. You will now be applying automations to this track only and only in the current Step Mode (currently set to Volume).
  2. Draw a wave across the big black Automations Panel. These values will be transcribed as levels in whatever Step Mode you happen to be in.
  3. Now try some of the automations to the left of the display. You can get the full description of each button here.
  4. There are two automations worth knowing about to facilitate deletion:
    Set to 0 Set to Zero - Sets track's automation to default (usually 0)
    Delete Clear Automation - its four options are:
  • Current - clears automation on entire current pattern in current Step Mode
  • Current All Patterns - clear all automation from all patterns in current Step Mode. For example, you could remove all panning or reversed tracks in your entire song.
  • All - All Automations from current patterns in all Step Mode.
  • All Patterns - All automations in all patterns and all Step Modes (Clears entire songs but leaves all patterns empty)

Change a Step's Pan, Pitch and Offset?

Step Mode Toggle Scroll through the Volume, Pan, Pitch and Offset modes by toggling the button in the Pattern Modifier toolbar.

  • Volume (Velocity) is the loudness of the pulse from 0 to 127, and the deafult value is 100.
  • Pan is its left/right balance.
  • Pitch is the frequency of the sound in +24/-24 semitones.
  • Offset controls the start and end of the pulse and can even reverse a sample.


VelocityVelocity Velocity Velocity Volume, Pan, Pitch and Sample Offset:

  • IMPORTANT: Only steps defined in Volume mode are audible!
  • The step color are tinted from min to max values with different color schemes for each step mode.
  • Steps with values defined in Volume, Pitch, Pan or Offset modes have a white highlight on the bottom.
  • IMPORTANT: If you draw a step in Pan, Pitch or Offset Mode into a step with no Volume, a Volume step will automatically be created; however, if you use Automations, the step volume remains empty.
  • NOTE: Volume and Pan values are multiplied by the master track Volume and Pan values defined in the Mixer.
  • NOTE: When in Offset mode, dragging the Pattern Modifier Slider bottom up and the top down allows you to reverse the sound.

We have been playing with Step Volume (Velocity); now we are going to create a smooth left to right pan using the Automations Panel explained above.

      1. Select a Track and use Randomize Randomize to provide an irregular constant beat.
      2. Select Pan Mode Velocity, located just below Volume (Velocity).
      3. With the same Track selected, use the Linear Down Linear Ramp Down automation.
      4. If you are not working with in Play mode, select Play.
      5. You should hear this beat move from the left to right speaker, especially noticeable with headphones.

Try playing with Pitch and Sample Offset modes as well. Remember, only steps with Volume get played, and for offset, you can reverse sounds by dragging the top and bottom edges of the Pattern Modifier Slider and reversing them.

Pattern & Song Dialog Save your Song (in the Toolbar.)

Add or Change a Track / Create a Custom Drum Kits

You may wish to modify an existing drum kit by switching samples with your own uploaded sounds or from another kit. You do this by customizing a Track which in turn creates a custom Drum Kit.

IMPORTANT: You can only have one custom kit at a time, and these are saved directly in your song. So to reuse a custom kit, you need to save it into a song that will serve as a template.

To access the Track Customization Kit, select Switch Tracks or New Track Button in the Pattern Modifier Menu.

DrumTrackHD's Track Customization Kit Panel

When open, selecting a Track (on the left hand menu) plays the sound sample currently assigned to that track. The panel allows you to reassign sound sample(s) to a track - creating a Custom Drum kit, as well as allowing you to connect a Server on you iPhone/iPod to upload your own custom sound samples.

Custom Drum kits

You can assign one or multiple sound samples to the selected track by browsing the samples in the drum kits supplied or upload your own sound files to your iPad (see Custom Samples below). Scroll up and down for all the available sound kits.

Multi-sample: To add additional samples to a Track, click on the round + (Plus) Button

As soon as you select a sample:

  • The new sample is assigned to the track and will be playable.
    Select the Revert Button if you wish to cancel, but this will only affect the currently selected track. If you select a new track to customize in the meantime, the previous sample cannot revert back to the old one.
  • The following options are available:
    • Midi Note: This will be the Midi note played by the Track.
    • Group / ChokeBy: These two values are interrelated. Group allows you to assign a track to a Group using a numerical value; ChokeBy is used to specify which group will cut off this sample.
      e.g. In a song, you want to specify that CloseHitHat be cut off by the OpenHitHat. You would assign OpenHitHat to Group "1", and CloseHitHat be assigned "1" in the ChokeBy field.
    • Velocity Range: Velocity is the Volume of the sound. Setting the Velocity Range of a sample will allow you to make it play only if the velocity values are in between two set values. Velocity is sent in values of between 0 and 127, with 0 being the softest and 127 the loudest. If you want the sample only to play when it is a certain loudness, you could set the Velocity Low Range marker to 64 and the Velocity High Range marker to 127.
    • Probability: Allows you to alter which sample is played in a multi-sample track, expressed in percentages.
  • A Custom Kit is created, which can be viewed in the Toolbar and Mixer Panel.

REMEMBER: The Custom kit is song-specific. If you wish to reuse your kit, create a "template" song with one pattern using your Custom kit.

Upload a Sound Sample for Custom Kits

    You can Upload onto your iPad your own custom sound files to create your own custom drum kit. These sound files will reside in the User Samples directory shown above.

    • Sound files must be in .wav, .aif, .aiff sound formats and be:
      • 16 bit,
      • 44 kHz,
      • mono and
      • signed.
    • Your iPad must be connected to your network by Wifi.

    With these requirements met:

    1. Click on the Connect Button Connect in the Toolbar.
    2. The server IP address of your iPad will be displayed in the Track Customization Kit.

      Connect Button

    3. On your computer, type in the IP address in your web browser to access your iPad server. Browse for your sample and Upload.

      Upload to Server
    4. That's it! Your sound file should be ready for use in the User Samples directory!

    5. Pattern & Song Dialog Save your Song (in the Toolbar.)

Create New Patterns and Build a Song

Reopen the Song Panel .

DrumTrackHD's Main (Pattern) and Song Panels

On the top row, the Pattern List contains all the Patterns that you create/duplicate/export with the tools to its left. On the bottom row, is the Song Structure window, and its tools are to its left.
The song structure is created by adding Pattern Instances of the Patterns (i.e. prototypes) listed in the Pattern List.

  • A Pattern is always selected in Pattern List (by default, the first pattern when you first launch DrumTrackHD).
    IMPORTANT: The selected Pattern determines what Pattern Instance is added to the Song Structure or is reassigned to a Pattern Instance in the Song Structure (by double clicking on the instance).
  • When creating new Patterns or duplicating existing ones, new Patterns are inserted after the selected Pattern and become the selected pattern in turn.
  • Selecting a Pattern in the Pattern List will display it in the Pattern Panel.
  • IMPORTANT: When the content exceeds the Pattern List window, you can scroll (two finger click and drag vertically) anywhere in the view to see the rest of the content.
  • You delete Patterns with the delete Delete Patterns button only.
  • The song structure is read in rows from left to right. With the Song Structure tools, click on the Add Pattern InstanceAdd Pattern Instance Button to add instances of the selected pattern to the song structure, or drag and drop your patterns from the Pattern List Window to the Song Structure Window to quickly create Pattern Instances.
  • You can delete Pattern Instances with the delete Delete Pattern Instances button or by dragging and releasing them outside the song structure window.
  • You can drag and drop your Pattern Instances to reorganize them quickly and easily in the pattern list.
  • Clicking once selects/deselects a Pattern Instance.
    NOTE: Unlike in the Pattern List, new pattern instances will be added just before the selected pattern instance; otherwise, if no pattern instance is selected, new instances are added at the end of the song structure.
  • Clicking twice assigns the currently selected pattern in the Pattern List to the pattern instance in the Song Structure.
  • IMPORTANT: When the content exceeds the Song Structure window, two finger click and drag vertically anywhere in the view to see the rest of the content.
  • The number of pattern instances in your song is listed in the Song Structure tools.
  1. duplicate Duplicate a Pattern.

  2. Create Create a new Pattern.

  3. Make modifications to theses Patterns in the Pattern Panel so you can easily tell them apart.

  4. Drag and drop each patterns a few times in the Song Structure Window. Your song is being built up.

  5. Loop on Pattern Make sure Playback is set to Song.

  6. Press Play. Your song should play through and you can see the light indicating which instance is being played in the song structure.

  7. Pattern & Song Dialog Save your Song (in the Toolbar.)

Use Pads

Pads are useful for creating and recording live sessions.

  • Create a new Pattern in the Song Panel for this portion, but you can obviously work with any existing pattern as well.
  • Make sure the Pat./Song switch in the Toolbar is set to Pattern.
  • Open the Pads Panel by selecting the button Pads in the toolbar.
  • Each pad corresponds to a track: the top row corresponds to the top eight tracks (from left to right in Pads > top to bottom in the Main Pattern Panel); the bottom row corresponds to the bottom 8 tracks.
    Note: If you are using a kit with less than 16 tracks, you will have fewer pads.
  • When a song or pattern is playing, you tap a pad to trigger the sounds samples for a live jam session.
  • Select Record, but not Overdub, and notice that as the pattern loops, it erases the previous pattern.
  • Next, select Record and Overdub, so you can keep building up on top of a pattern.
  • Stop when you are happy with the pattern.
  • Pattern & Song Dialog Save your Song (in the Toolbar.)

Use Fx (Audio Effects)

Fx are audio effects that can be applied to your song; up to two Fx can be used simultaneously. Using Return Tracks, you can assign an FX only to certain tracks or have it apply to the entire song using the Master Return Track.

To open the Fx panel, select FX in the Toolbar. When working with Fx, you often work with the Mixer Panel Mixer as well to take full advantage of Return Tracks.

DrumTrackHD's Mixer and Fx Panels
DrumTrackHD Mixer and Fx Panels

You currently have these audio Fx to choose from:
  • Delay
  • Bitcrusher
  • Filter
  • Saturator

FX Panel

To select an Fx, drag a square icon on the left and drag it to the holding panel to the right. Above, we have selected Delay and Saturator. You can have up to two effects simultaneously.

To remove an Fx, click and drag one out of the holding area.

To the far left of each Fx, you can control it's on/off status, select a return track and adjust the wet/dry slider.

  • On/Off: Toggle to turn the Fx on and off.

  • Master/A/B Return Tracks: Applying Effects To Return Tracks

Return Track Knobs When working with Fx and Return Tracks, you use the two round, black Return Track Buttons located under each track slider in the Mixer Panel..

  • The top row of knobs assigns tracks to Return Track A;
  • The bottom row assigns tracks to Return Track B.

Each Track's Return Track default value is 100%, as shown above, but each track can modulate the amount of effect applied to it by selecting the knob and dragging around it. Touch and drag the knob to 0% to remove a Track from the Return Track.

Each Fx has a 3 way toggle (on the left) that assigns the sound effect to either Master, A or B Return Tracks. The Fx can be applied to all tracks using the Master Return Track or only to tracks assigned to Return Track A or B.

For example, to omit tracks from your Fx, set the top knob to 0% for a few tracks, and in your Fx, select the letter A.

  • Wet/Dry Slider: Controls the overall amount of Fx sent to the Return Tracks

Play around with the other Fx and their custom settings during playback to hear the Fx instantaneously. Saturator is probably the easiest to start with. Bring Filter in and Drag in its grey display area to hear its effects.

To get full descriptions of each Fx go here.

Export or Publish a Song

  • In the Song Panel , select Export in the Song Structure Tools (left of the bottom window).

Export Pattern
  • For this tutorial, we are going to Render to Disk, but you can email your song or publish it online using SoundCloud as well. Regardless of how you choose to export a pattern or song, you will need to specify the data format, sample rate and mono or stereo.
xport Pattern
  • Select the file options you want, and select Preview to hear how these setting affect the sound quality.
  • Once you are satisfied, select Export.
  • Now you need to get this file off of the iPad. USB File Transfer is the fastest and the easiest way transfer files to and from DrumTrackHD from your computer. Apple provides a way to transfer files to applications via a USB cable in their iTunes computer program. This method requires that iOS 3.2 or later is installed on your device.
  • Start iTunes on your computer (make sure that you have the latest version of iTunes)
  • Connect your iPad to your computer via USB cable.

    itunes - render to disk

  • Click on your device's name on the left pane of iTunes window.
  • Select the Apps tab on the right pane of iTunes window.
  • Scroll down the window until you find the File Sharing section.
  • Select DrumTrackHD in the list of apps that support iTunes File Sharing.
  • In this window you will find documents stored in My Documents folder of DrumTrackHD.
    • At the top level are DrumTrack format songs and any files that were Rendered to Disk in to format you specified when exporting.
    • Select the song and drag it to your desktop or select the Save To button.
  • That's it! Have fun, and if you ever get lost, use the ? in the toolbar for the documentation.

    Don't hesitate to read the rest of documentation for more tips and tricks.

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