Making simple changes/replacing samples in GA5

I’ll say straight up that I’m loving Groove Agent 5 and using it for lots more than just drum samples. It’s a really good sampler in general and the fact it has stand alone mode, and that i can use it as a plugin in other DAWS and NI stuff is fantastic.

However, something that almost ruins it is the freedom to change samples on kits other than beat agent. I’ve used lots of drum machines/plugins in my time and I’m not sure I can think of any (at this level) that will not let you assign a different sample to a kit piece.

I mean, I’ve bought Cubase and pay to maintain it, I’ve purchased the full version of Groove Agent 5, I’ve also purchased the Simon Phillips studio expansion cause it looked great and it would be good to have a kit with some more choices and don’t get me wrong i do love it, but as an example, the china sample is garbage, it really does sound terrible to the point where i wonder if anyone actually listened to it in use with the rest of the kit before releasing it whatsoever.

But look thats ok, everyone has different tastes and I’m one of them. You can only imagine my irritation given the money I’ve put in (and time changing processes from old ones) when I right click to change to a different type of china and see nothing… I already know i can’t drag and drop a new sample from reading up on it before hand. So apart from some nasty work arounds, I’m stuck with this now aren’t I?

I don’t know what you guys think but I’[m of the view it’s not good enough for paid subscribers/users. If i want to change the default sound on a kit piece in 2023 or route a microphone to a room bus I think i should be able to frankly.


I routinely save customized kits with replaced samples under a new name.

Thanks for the reply @Nico5 , I’m almost certain this isn’t possible with anything apart from a beat agent kit. ie any acoustic kits such as ‘the kit’, ‘the studio kit’, or signature expansions etc are not able to be altered. If this is incorrect can you please explain/show me how?

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yikes - I think you’re right - for some libraries, it seems one can’t edit the pads.

With some others it seems to work fine to edit individual pads

Clearly I had just gotten lucky in the cases where I wanted to do that with some of my add-on purchased libraries.

I have no idea what the motivation is for that kind of locking of the pad assignments for some of the libraries is. Doesn’t make any sense to me either.

Very annoying indeed!

Agreed, I can’t imagine what kind of trouble we’d get in if we changed a sample for goodness sakes. I understand if they don’t want us to change the standard kits that they’re tried and tested so ok, let us do a save as or at least provide more than one cymbal on a paid VST for $120. not good enough.

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I wonder if it’s more an artifact of how the engine for the Acoustic Agent and the Percussion Agent are programmed, rather than a byproduct of copy protection.

p.s. As a workaround, I’ll probably make a new Beat Agent Kit in one of the other slots in GA5 that listens to the same midi channel as the Acoustic or Percussion Agent and program the equivalent pad(s) while muting the undesirable Acoustic or Percussion Agent pad(s).

And then save that setup as a Multi-Program.

This doesn’t necessarily solve all of the use cases you mentioned, but makes it possible to replace one or more pads in a kit.

And if desiring to play a GA5 pattern live with this kind of setup, it requires some additional midi loopback routing, but that also seems to be possible according to a little test I just did.


Acoustic Agent kits are ‘locked’. That’s not a GA issue, but how the kits are designed to be used. Concept: You’ve just hired a drummer who brings his favorite kit, using the same sticks/mallets/etc, and the same ‘technique’ for every single kit piece, all recorded in the same room, with the same mics. They’re already set up for you for the most part, and laid out for mixing. FULL acoustic drum KIT…all designed to work together…and it should be convincing that the ‘same player’ is sitting on the drum throne.

Contrast that with just grabbing various samples and building a kit. It can sound pretty goofy to the trained ear, when it’s obvious samples were made using different sticks, a mix match of head types, different striking techniques, made in different rooms, etc.

Acoustic Agent kits also have those groove tools with macro screens that you can ‘dial in’. Changing the kit could break the way those grooves were intended work.

Other reasons for locking it might be copy protection, and just making the product slightly easier to service, and harder to ‘break’ by accident.

There’s a pretty solid work around if you need to add custom bits to a kit, or even mix and match more than one acoustic agent.

Since you get 4 kit slots…use them. Stack kits. While you cannot edit the pads of such ‘locked’ kits, you can ‘remap’ them a bit. You can ‘mute’ pads in kit slots that aren’t being used, and remap pads from other kits to use the same channel. Etc…

So, if you need ‘custom samples’…simply do it in a new kit slot. Use pads that are empty in the locked agent kit. Set both slots to the ‘same channel’. Remap some pads (change trigger note) if you really want/need it to be on a certain ‘trigger note’.

Here’s a thread/post on the topic from GA4 days. Still applies to GA5.
Groove agent 4 your own drum kit - Virtual instruments - Steinberg Forums

Hi Brian,

I know what you’re saying but in real life, I’m not hiring a drummer, I’m a guy sitting in a room wanting to change a single cymbal sample on a paid VST and I’m not allow to do it.
I have been working around wiht the second kit slot like suggested but as I said, no other drum VST’s of this level I know work like that. Whats the harm to us? it’s our product, we bought it, let us use it the way we want not the way you force us. Thats my view anyway. Thanks for all your advice all.

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steinberg listens…haha
4-5 years FR here and nada,!

why make it easy and flexible for users using GA, just make it impossible and try work arounds that are not complete,
i guess GA was not ment to be an acoustic drum in mind. its a great tool for other drum/sampler areas but for customizable acoustic kits it limps badly.
just use what we made for you in the kit and dont bother change that snare.
really steinberg? its just the most basic and logical thing to have in a drum sampler/module to change drum elements

100% agree

Easy. Start an empty user kit in a second kit slot. Build your new cymbal sound on pads that your primary kit isn’t using. Route it to the bus you want it sounding from, apply whatever effects you want, etc. Match the MIDI channels of the two slots. Swap the trigger notes out if you truly want to ‘replace’ the old cymbal sound as opposed to simply adding your new one to the kit somewhere.


Mute the cymbal sound you want gone in the primary kit. Make your new one in the same pad of a second kit set to the same channel.

Continue the process for other pads from the primary kit that you want to ‘replace’.

As for having the samples themselves unlocked and browsable in the sample library browser…they could do that I guess. I wouldn’t mind a bit if they did, but at this time they do not. So if I really want something from a locked kit I just resample it (easy and fast these days…often even quicker than hunting the raw samples down).

True, but they aren’t typically shipping with ‘matched kits’ either (sometimes even sound pretty bad…like a drummer uses 18 different pairs of sticks when he plays?). They don’t have the macros and groove engine either. The ones with an open frame work and wad of samples to play with tend to come with different sounds/kits in the box (particularly MPC style plugins…often with different genera/style of music in mind), and their pricing for the kits is also different. They typically don’t come with genera specific styles/patterns to quickly hammer out song demos either (quick and dirty song writer kits all ready to go).

I’m not disagreeing that it’d be rather handy to be able to clear out a pad and replace it with your own stuff…or in the least unlock the unused pads of those acoustic agent kits. It’s just that for now, that’s how it is, and the only way to truly get around it would be to unlock the layers fully in the VSTSOUND archive…but then you’d have to rebuild your entire kit from the ground up ‘without’ the custom UI/Macro setup. You’d also lose the groove agent pattern dialer (and would instead need to make your own as MIDI patterns).

At some point users might get more access to LUA and building macros in Groove Agent (like we got with HALion 6). Or, maybe they could put in a button that 'strips out the Macro/scripting/groove stuff and gives you a bog standard beat-agent type of kit that’s ‘wired the same’…and you could work from there.

It hasn’t happened thus far though. So the “Groove Agent Way” is to simply use a second kit slot for your custom bits, load up samples to your heart’s content, and ‘maybe’ do a little pad muting and/or trigger remapping. Save it as a multi-kit when done.

If your heart is set on using just a snare sound that’s locked down in a ‘different acoustic set’…takes less than 1 minute to resample (I use instant render in my DAW) it and drag it right from the arrange view of the DAW into an unlocked kit-slot (maybe even less time than ‘hunting a sample down on your hard drive and loading it’).

Acoustic Agent Kits being locked from deep user edits makes a little more sense if you’ve ever built a macro in HALion 6. Those macro screens are tied to LUA scripts…and if one goes fiddling about with the layers/samples/zones, it can break the script (and possibly even crash the plugin and/or DAW).

As for other drum VSTs ‘not working this way’. If they have custom scripting going on, and macro screens (with the dancing drum kit, preset effect chains, other custom UI elements)…then yeah…they tend to be locked down in similar ways as Groove Agent.

Example: Grab an acoustic ‘drum kit’ from East West. Locked up even more-so…a fraction of the editing/tweaking/mixing options. You can’t make your own kit additions at all in that eco-system. Instead, you simply load multiple kits and use what you need from them. Get drum kits from NI? Same deal unless you invest in their flagship Kontakt product…and even then, if there is much ‘custom scripting’ and custom UI work going on…it WILL be locked down, and require similar hoops to mix and match kits as this Groove Agent product.

How does it limp? I have no problem making custom kits in GA. It’s rarely necessary to do much though, when I can just use multiple kits in multiple slots…even use multiple instances if 4 slots aren’t enough.

Out of 128 possible midi triggers for a given channel, I find PLENTY of room to build anything I want across the 4 slots in an instance. It’s extremely rare for any one factory kit to use more than 3 octaves. LOTS of empty trigger notes to work with.

In Cubase, most of it will even auto-map to the ‘drum mapping and diamond editor’…so I can even ‘score’ a drum track on the same stave that has kit pieces across multiple channels and plugins. Do it all the time…even mix and match totally different brands of percussion plugins [GA, EW, Garritan, etc] on the same track (Cubase Drum Mapping).

It may be a ‘different’ workflow than expected, but it seems pretty complete to me. 4 Slots with 128 possible triggers on each one, up to 4 channels at a time…of which you can route and mix anyway you like…

There is some ‘fiddling’, but that would be required to ‘replace’ a pad in an existing kit as well. Factor in the custom scripting of the ‘Agent Kits’ (if you know enough about LUA, how it works with the engine, the UI dev kit, etc…time to rework all that mess…naw, it’s easier to just hit ‘mute’ for the unwanted pad and use another slot for your custom filler…or just put it in on an unused trigger in another octave…swap out some trigger notes if your sequences would benefit by that). So, a little different work flow, but not really more time consuming, and same end result.

Well workaround are alternative to bad design or lack of options etc …
I do like GA and use it alot also for its acoustic agent and also got some of the extra paid acoustic ones.
When i do work on a music and i want to choose the right snare for instance, i just need to have a menu of snares from the cell or snare image on GA from all my acoustic GA libraries.
The work around is slow and tedious with to many actions,and it loads the all kit only for a snare.
What if i want to make a kit from 5 different acoustic kits? Even if it was possible imagine the hassle and the waste of memory ,cpu time loading etc …
Make it short,for me its a bad design(or bad workflow and concept from begining) that slows the process of composition,and restricts me in many ways in that regards.
Im not a programmer and i dont know what is needed to improve this,it is steinbergs job. Im just the end user, and i think steinberg needs to improve this issue in future for GA.
Again GA is excellent in many ways ,but if they also bothered to include the acoustic agent,make it customizable as other “regular” drum vst

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I understand what you’re saying, but acoustic agents are marketed as complete kits. They’re already designed to work together within given parameters for specific ‘generas of music’, or ‘mixing situations’, and not really need anything ‘replaced’.

Not designed or marketed as individual kit pieces. There’s a lot of custom scripting going on with those kits.

Every kit that ships with GA (or can be purchased as an addon) wasn’t done at the same time, by the same developers, so even if they wanted, they can’t feasibly offer options to import any snare on your system into that prebuilt ‘scripted’ kit. They’d have to build it into the scripts…key into the db (if LUA can even do that yet…it’d be pretty complicated and ugly to have macro pop-ups showing every snare on the system)

I agree that it’d be nice if maybe they put in a button to ‘disable and/or strip the scripts’ from kits, and turn an Acoustic Agent Kit into a regular unlocked user-preset (Like the stuff in the Beat Agent library) that users could then ‘edit’ as they desire. I.E. Samples/layers still on the pads, effects still in place, same routing…but just remove the macros and present the default GA editors.

Still, even that could lead to problems, as the LUA scripts can theoretically do a LOT of important things besides just link a UI to various parameters. They can also do round robin work, manipulate parameters, fiddle with loop points, and more. Some of the agent kits are ‘deeper’ than simply triggering one shot samples.

Or, if unused pads in Agent Kits were unlocked in a way that users could add on to the kids outside the scope of the macros/scripts. (Just drag something on an unused pad, and go to work with GA’s built in editing abilities).

Someday GA might come with a dev kit for all users to edit/build their own LUA and UI macros (Like HALion 6). At that point, if a kit is unlocked by the developer, you could change more stuff, but it wouldn’t be all that simple. You’d at least need to open up a script in a text editor and point it to different samples.

Those are worthy feature requests.

Again, the Acoustic Agent GA ‘content’ isn’t any different than using a distributed ‘kit’ from something like EW, Garritan, or NI. Those are even LESS flexible than GA’s Agent Kits. Plus, they sometimes even cost a good bit more, or only come with larger/expensive sound sets.

You can build your own acoustic kits in GA using your own samples without any such restrictions. There are a lot of quality kits and samples shipped with GA that are NOT locked. Particularly if one cracks open the old Groove Agent ONE material [samples are already browsable in GA, or via Cubase Media Library] (First install the GA1 plugin. Save presets you like as a user preset, and now you should be able to open them in newer versions of Groove Agent - I still wonder why newer versions of GA don’t see the old GA1 content. It ships with GA, as well as with Cubase/GA SE…but for some reason newer versions ‘overlook’ those old presets…weird that they’ll show up after exporting from the GA1 plugin. At any rate, if you want acoustic kit pieces, it’s worth it to grab GA1 and explore those options! There’s a pretty NICE brush kit hidden in there!)

As for the Acoustic Agent kits (or any kits that rely on the macro/scripting features), they’re pretty inexpensive relative to buying quality wide open sample sets of that magnitude. If you really want to work with individual pieces from those kits…resample.

Now, I’ve compared GA to ‘other MPC style’ products. It’s true that many of them ‘seem’ more flexible…particularly if one is only evaluating issues with the ‘Locked Agent Kits’ in GA, and pretending that there isn’t a ton of ‘unlocked kits and samples’ shipping with the product to work with as well.

GA ships with a lot of nice ready to use acoustic kits, PLUS gigs of ‘unlocked’ content to build with. Not many competing products come with that much content to work with, ‘or’ the content that comes with it is way more EDM/Rap/Hip-Hop oriented, and not a whole lot of well balanced ‘acoustic kit pieces’.

Thanks @Brian_Roland and @mozizo, I understand and generally agree in principal. More importantly, if the kits I’m talking about were free/come with cubase I’d happily accept this like i do with other inbuilt plugins or near free VST etc. It’s just a real shame to not even have a couple more choices even if it’s not one of my samples in terms of cymbals and even some of the shells. I absolutely love that massive Simon Phillips Kit and the mixing ability etc. and i think thats why im so ticked off sometimes with basic stuff like this. i.e. if it was only ok and i decided at the beggining im going to have to route all this out and control via traditional methods/add more VST or samples on top i’d probably not be too bothered. I think it’s because it’s soooooo damn close to being the exact thing i need all wrapped up in one instrument that can if im honest, do a lot more than i really need in a lot of cases but im stuck with a single china sample (which i still maintain is very average and almost feels like a mistake) and i just think, ohhhh guys. C’mon, what a wasted opportunity (in my view of course). I’ve since developed 2 different kinds of work arounds one of which is the obvious one and look, it works fine i guess. I suppose like many of us, I’m often obsessive about keeping things ‘clean’ and ‘simple’ so to speak when perhaps it doesn’t matter all that much.

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I hear ya.

I agree that it’d be nice if the unused pads of those locked kits could be left unlocked somehow. Then it’d be easy to just drag something in and swap a few trigger notes if needed.

Not sure how to get in touch with the people who made that kit, but you might see if you can hunt them down (maybe Steinberg support can pass along the message) and request more/better China cymbals be added to the kit in proper fashion.

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Not a bad point Brian - thats the kind of thing i typically assume is too hard but perhaps it isn’t? at any rate, I agree they should (and deserve to in a way) be able to handle some feedback.

On that note @Brian_Roland how does one contact steinberg support directly, via email? when i go to ‘support’ from the website (logged in) it sends me to a page which only gives me an option to contact my local supplier which is obviously going to be useless as they only sell the stuff rather than supporting it. Is it maybe a ‘new feature request’?

You could try sending suggestions or queries to:

If you actually need help with something log into your “My Steinberg Account” to ‘file a support ticket’.

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