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Updated: May 29, 2023

The ongoing debate between drums in audio and drums in MIDI has been a topic of discussion in the music production world for quite some time. But what about 808s? Which is better - 808 samples as an audio file, or synth-generated 808s with MIDI? In this blog post, we’ll explore the pros and cons of each method and provide some tips for processing and mixing 808s in your tracks.

808 Samples

One of the most significant advantages of using 808 samples is the creative flexibility it offers. With samples, you can blend the attack of the sub with the punch of the kick by fading the start of the 808 and the tail of the kick. This can result in a unique and personalized sound that is difficult to achieve with MIDI.

Synth 808s

Synth-generated 808s, on the other hand, are great for controlling the pitch, tone, and envelope of the sound. This flexibility makes it easy to change every 808 in the song quickly and efficiently. However, using MIDI can sometimes result in a less authentic sound compared to samples.


Once you have your 808 sound, it’s time to process it for a professional sound. To ensure that your 808 is audible on all playback systems, consider adding a saturated or distorted layer on top. Tools such as Soundtoys Decapitator can help you achieve the desired saturation, and a simple EQ can hi-pass the lowest lows (100-300Hz) and filter out the highs (600-1000Hz) to prevent any harshness or muddiness.

When mixing 808s, it’s essential to find the right balance between the kick and the sub. To do this, you can try letting the percussion be a bit louder than the bass. As a rule of thumb, let the kick peak 3-6dBFS above the loudest peak of the 808. Using sidechain compression can also help blend the kick and the 808 together by decreasing the volume level of your 808 by the amount of the kick. Alternatively, you can try delaying the kick by a few milliseconds to make space for the 808.

In conclusion, both methods of generating 808s have their pros and cons. Audio samples offer creative flexibility, while synth-generated 808s provide control over pitch and tone. Regardless of the method, the processing and mixing techniques remain the same. So, do you prefer your 808s as audio files or synth-generated? The choice is ultimately yours.

sample selection and mixing 808 kicks and bass with Staygo sound
sample selection and mixing 808 kicks and bass with Staygo sound


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