Is using presets cheating?


I used one of the new drum presets to make something kind of interesting. Am I a bad person? I put an LFO and some Reverb on it, in my own defence.

Is using a sample-based drum machine considered cheating?

I used to think so, even if I started from a preset and tweaked it, but now as I’ve gained experience over the years, it just doesn’t matter at all anymore. Use what you want, most people will probably have little idea anyway.

I’ve made jams with all presets before. It’s fine. Especially to get in the groove quickly. I’ll usually want to tweak stuff later on though.

I like that the presets on the OP-1 (especially the new ones) don’t feel generic so you only have to futz with them a little to make them not obvious.

Think about hearing GarageBand loops on tv show soundtracks…although in that case, those are whole musical passages.

I’d feel much worse using the preset sequences in Finger than using preset sounds. Would you?

That’s the thing, usually presets don’t sound that great. But if they sound good, use them. As for the sequences, I feel like that’s different. I like to come up with my own melodies and chord progressions.


and also, not at all.
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No, but I don’t know how much weight my opinion carries. I’d be curious as to why you think it is.

On this episode of Song Exploder, MGMT talks about Time To Pretend being made primarily with (Reason) presets:

Is using Drums/Percussions instead of building it by yourself cheating?

It’s just a “instrument”, the result is the key, imho.
No, but I don't know how much weight my opinion carries. I'd be curious as to why you think it is.

On this episode of Song Exploder, MGMT talks about Time To Pretend being made primarily with (Reason) presets:

I remember reading a Kevin Barnes (Of Montreal) interview where he said the same thing (Reason presets) for 'Hissing Fauna… '.

I rarely use presets even as a spring board but nothing wrong with it. Most of the fun and justification of the expense of hardware for me is making sounds/mangling your own samples etc though.


Kind of funny subject, you read of x artist saying they never use presets then hear 909 sounds on their music, or samples from another record, - ok. I guess as long as you feel you are not doing it simply to be artistically lazy then it is ok to use whatever the damn hell you please. I too rarely use presets simply because I enjoy designing sounds, but I see nothing wrong with it at all, 808, 909, 303, piano, guitar etc are all presets right?

Couple of other things, I have been designing sounds since the early 90s, from commercial to free stuff to factory presets in various machines, and I can tell you that my sounds have been used in lots of records and big name projects and by artists whose work I admire.

Consider things like the amen break, or fairlight orch stabs, presets that defined genres.

yeah… distorted electric guitar, OMG SUCH AN OVERUSED PRESET.

Also, to add something a bit more insightful:

I used to think it was a bit like cheating. But the fact of the matter is, sound design and doing it well takes a lot of time and effort. Programming modulations, assigning velocity to different destinations, they all add up to what makes a sound really stand out, but it’s an art form in itself.

Nowadays I often start with a preset I like and tweak it to a new direction to achieve what I want to hear. That way, I can benefit from the hard work of the sound designer but also get my say in the matter :slight_smile:

That way, I can actually make music, not just browse forums and tweak patches.

TL;DR: Hats off to sound designers – I steal with pride.

Ever heard of “Sleng Teng riddim” ?

We’re not just talking about preset here, but a whole pattern :smiley:
Plus I love stories like Hendrix bringing Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower” to such another level that the original became totally eclipsed…

IMO, music in its purest form aka the art of creating evolutions of air vibrations can’t just be mixed with such thing as cheating.
Your own judgment prevails when it comes to consider if what you got just fits your need.

Lots of good discussion here, which is excellent to see.

I guess there’s that funny gap between synthesizers and organic instruments that you could fill a whole book exploring.

producing music needs lot’s of skills, but there is so much other part to make your work.
Orchestration , arrangement, mixing, making melodies and harmonies, those are lot’s of things that can make a complete artist even without using his own preset.

For me creating my own preset is an important part too, but i also like to use presets, that inspire me in a different way, and make me learn a lot.

BTW I don’t feel like it’s easy to create drum presets on the OP-1, except maybe with the drumsynth…

I mean, when I’m far from a computer, I just tend to use what is already on the OP-1.
In fact, I just figured I use drum presets A LOT !

Damn, I haven’t even ended the creation of my drumkits for the current battle !

creation vs curation… maybe?

if it supports the song, helps convey the emotion, nails home the vibe…

does it matter where the sound is from?

it is fun tweaking shit to the nines, though. we all love it.