OP-Z homogenous drum sample kits vs. conventional mixed sample kits – which is best and why?

The factory sample kits that ship on the OP-Z are grouped by sample type. As TE put it on their website…

OP–Z comes with 16 sample packs, each containing 24 samples. the basic configuration is divided into kicks, snares, percussion and effects…

When I’m programming a sequence on the Kick track this means I can choose from 96 kick drum samples. I get a similar amount of choice when seqencing the Snare, Perc and Effects tracks.

This is quite different to the conventional approach taken by the OP-1, Novation Circuit, et al where a sample kit typically comprises a range of hits from different instruments or drums – kick, snare, open and closed hats, cymbals, toms – perhaps with a few different articulations.

As I see it, conventional kits offer a number of advantages over the OP-Z’s homogenous kits:

  1. Conventional kits support finger drumming – pointless with an OP-z factory kit as all available drum sounds are just variations on the same instrument part.

  2. I’ll never need 96 different kick or snare sounds. Using a few conventional kits made up of the sounds I like will free up slots on my OP-Z for a wider variety of other samples.

  3. Each of the OP-Z’s four sample-based drum tracks has two note polyphony per step. Placing two hits on a step makes sense with a conventional kit (e.g. a kick and a hat) but not so much if your kit is exclusively kicks.

Now I totally understand that I can replace the OP-Z factory kits with my own and organise them however I like. However I assume that TE has good reasons for taking this approach. I suppose it makes the user interface more intuitive given the lack of a screen and is in keeping with the neat icon graphics used to label the track buttons.

So before I ditch the factory kits in favour of my own curated versions, can anybody persuade me that TE’s way is better?

1 Like

I’m looking at full kits on 1 to 2 tracks and then variety on the rest myself too.

I often only have 2 trigs per step for a beat anyway. Let us know how your adventures go.

I think is because the opz is primarily used for programming beats instead of finger drumming them, it also helps with ghost notes, and stuttering, etc. All the stuff the opz is really good at… plus you can easily turn a step from a snare into a kick with the parameter locking… it helps you be creative and mess with pitch, filter, step components… all that… I sometimes turn a kick into a synth line!!

1 Like

I like being able to mute the kick or snare etc which I can only do if they are on their track.

3 Likes

I’ve been wondering the same thing. I do like having separate drum tracks, as it makes it easy to change up just, say, the kick drum sound.

But I could probably take all the kicks I like, and keep them in one kit.

Also, now we can sample, I’d rather use most of the drum tracks for my own samples. One nice feature is that the factory sets stay always available through the iOS app, if you remove them from the OP-Z to use your own samples.

You basically laid out a lot of the most valid points. But this was a topic for me when i started so i’ll chime in my 2 cents
If you are step programming, using the separate tracks for kick, snare etc makes sense, as it allows the most complex beats to be programmed in, each with their own track for effects, step components, parameter locking, and mute group functionality. This allows very complex drum tracks.

As I have found, like you, this is more than the music i make requires. My setup is the following. Track 1 and 2 are full kit tracks. Each bank has an exact replica of each kit, in order. So if i want to use Lofi1 i select it on both tracks. Now, based on my beat, i can sequence the kick and snare on one track, and have the hihats and some random sound on the other. For just about any beat i use this is plenty complex enough, and i also use a lot of finger drumming with a midi keyboard to my opz. This does mean that i cant easily mute the kick, separately… but there are workarounds to that as well. This is also only 4 note polyphony on the drums but this is really the most i use for the majority of the stuff i make right now.

Track 3 i use for live instrument sample chops, i might have guitar riffs from my roommate, flute solos that i did, etc, to chop up using the drum synth engine.

track 4 is vocal samples for chops, pretty self explanatory.

This plus the 4 melodic synth tracks allows for some pretty fun, complicated stuff. If i ever find myself REALLY needing another drum track ill just throw another kit on track 3 or 4.

one side positive is that i can take a beat that i made, and just swap out whatever kits are selected on tracks 1 +2, to totally change the drum beat and add inspiration. Like take some old lofi beat that i made a while ago and select a jazz kit or the old world drum kit i made myself, and BAM, instantly new sound and vibe. :sunglasses:

3 Likes

The way I see it, they both have their uses, and its just a matter of foresight for how you will be operating.

Sometimes I use the kick track for all my drums, keeps it simple, frees up other tracks for sample use, and can get a bit wild when throwing some random components in there.(Instead of replacing a kick sample with another type of kick, it might replace it with a hat or snare etc.)

Homogenous is really the way the samples were meant to go, as reflected in the functions of the Components you can throw in. I recently used the 1st stock soundbank on the 4th track, randomized and distorted, and the way they are all in tune but with totally different sonic characteristics worked really well. So in the future I will definitely be designing some soundbanks with these functions in mind, so they all cohere well together when randomized.

Its a matter of think twice cut once in my opinion, but then I am using the Z purposefully to fulfill roles in projects, rather than the more exploratory type use, so I might be oddball on this.

2 Likes

Another thing that popped into my head is that the kick track has 10 sample slots, so 10 kick slots each with 24 possible .5s kicks, so in total like 240 possible kicks can be stored in the kick track.
That is WAY MORE than i will ever have a need for! Gimme like 10-15 different kicks, and with the different effects, lfo’s and parameters i can make 240 different sounding kicks from that. But i really think dedicating all that space to just kicks is super wasteful, esp on such a limited memory device.
just a thought :v:

1 Like

Lots of good feedback here – thanks to everyone who has commented.

@ghostly606 makes a good point in favour of using one instrument per track for selective muting - a nice perfomance tip. It also makes sense for ease of use when programming as pointed out by @Kja.

Great insights from @Erlik_Khan – I like the idea of replicating full kits on tracks 1 and 2. That opens up a way of working that I hadn’t considered.

It’s stil early days for me with the OP-Z so at this stage I’m going to keep an open mind. As @Mistercharlie says, it’s easy enough to reinstate the stock kits from the app so no reason not to experiment with the different approaches.

1 Like

Does a duplicate sample occupy the same memory space or is it doubled ?
I have never been able to fill all the sample slot instruments with the memory limitation

use the ~ in front of the duplicate sample/kit in order to save space
its all in the how_to_import.txt file that is on your Z in content mode


sample packs

you can add your own sample packs to OP-Z. the supported file format is
the OP-1 .aif sample format. for drum tracks it is the drum sample
format and for synth tracks the synth sample format. either export
samples from OP-1, build your own using the OP-1 drum utility, or
download from op1.fun

read more on OP-Z sample packs on http://teenage.engineering

the 10 slots of a track is represented by ten sub folders under each
track. choose a free slot folder and place you new sample pack there.
only one sample pack per slot folder will be imported, any additional
ones will be rejected. you can place the same sample pack on several
tracks without taking up any redundant diskspace. the duplicate files
will be prefixed with ~ and have 0 size. Example:

1-kick
01
cannedlaughter.aif 1.1 MB

3-kick
03
~cannedlaughter.aif 0 bytes

you can have a total of 32 MB of sample data. remove any sample files you
don’t use anymore to make room for new ones.

2 Likes

Awesome !
I read that info way back the first time I loaded some samples but then forgot about it .

Do you know if the seperate instances of the sample can have different settings in the same project if you do it this way? For example on my kick track the samples have set start points, but on the snare track with the reference file have different start points?

2 Likes

If you load conventional kits on the kick and snare track you can get some strangeness if you use the punch in performance track fx. like the one that plays a kick or snare roll it will sometimes grab a not kick or snare. The random punch in fx gets really random. It doesn’t happen with track 4. I like to load a couple conventional kits in track 4 for drum layering. I think the factory preset has the vinyl crackle sample set on this track and the last 4 notes are drum chops. I might be wrong, feel free to correct me if I am.

You can definitely do really cool things with the sequencer and a chopped sample.

1 Like

Thanks Dr Sticks!

Question though: Does this imply that there is less room than 10 per track? Makes sense, as my opz doesn’t let me add 10 per track.

read the whole thing.
says 32mb but i believe its actually 24mb is your memory limit for sample kits
the other 8mb is reserved for bounces

thats your limitation, not the number of kits

i don’t have a Z anymore but when i did i was able to fill some tracks up w/ 10 kits
but then i ran out of memory.

the import.log file that is generated on your Z will tell u how much space u have left
as well as any errors importing and such

2 Likes

Being able to save different parameters to the same sample in different position would be really useful.
I’m eager to this try later !

I was missing out on the plug preset saving to the white keyboard keys.:man_shrugging:
The different user samples act like a plugin and the presets settings are shared between all the slots with the same sample loaded across different patterns and projects. Pretty cool.

I’ve been using a combination of homogenous and mixed sample kits in my OPz and find it to be a really good compromise. For instance in one kit, the first half of the kit will all be kick drums, which lets me do things like layer or swap out sounds on fills. The second half of the kit will be different snares, IE so I can mix kick and snares on one track for more sounds.

Gives me options and means I can always have the same kits loaded on the Z at all times. Better than having to swap things out with the computer.