How To Add New Drum Kits To The Hydrogen Drum Sequencer (Without Tearing Your Hair Out)

hydrogen advanced drum machine screenshotThe Hydrogen Advanced Drum Machine is a really great (and really free) drum sequencer that was made for Linux and ported to Windows. It’s easy to get used to and comes pre-loaded with a couple of drum kits (including the Roland TR-808 for all you b-boys and b-girls), but you’ll eventually want to add more kits to support your beat making needs.

And that’s where the fun ends. Nearly every time I tried to add a new drum kit, Hydrogen would crash with the following error:

Microsoft visual C++ Runtime Library

Assertion Failed
Program: hydrogen.exe
File: instrument.cpp
Line 122
Expression pDrumkitInfo

The only response I could find via my good friend, Google, was that I could solve the problem by switching to Linux. I’m all for Linux, but I’ll dig out my old Boss DR-550 drum machine before I switch O/S’s to play around with a drum machine. I have a lot of respect for people who develop free products, and a lot of sympathy for people who have to work on help desks, but telling someone to switch O/S’s to solve an issue isn’t a solution. It’s a cop out.

I like Hydrogen quite a bit, so I wanted to see if I could come up with a solution. It only took 20 minutes of poking around the Hydrogen directories to figure out what was going on. If you try out Hydrogen and get to the point that you want to add more kits, you don’t need to switch to Linux to do it. You can add kits on Windows (without tearing your hair out) as long as you know couple of small, yet important, pieces of information.

First, Hydrogen doesn’t actually support importing drum kits in the .h2drumkit format like you would expect it to. It’s a known bug, so the sooner you forget about the import button, the better off you’ll be. Second, Hydrogen is ridiculously finicky about how drum kit directories are named. It not only cares what you name your directories, but whether you use upper or lower case.

If you follow the instructions below, you’ll be crash free and adding kits to your heart’s content. Happy beat making. Long live free software.

How To Install New Drum Kits In Hydrogen Without Crashes

  1. Download a kit from Hydrogen’s drum kit page.
  2. Unzip the file until you have an .h2drumkit file. The .h2drumkit file is just a zip file containing a bunch of sounds (kick drum, snare, high hat, etc.) and an XML file. The file is usually a zip of a zip of a zip, so you use your favorite unzipping tool (such as 7-Zip) to unzip the .h2drumkit until you have a folder of audio files and an XML file called drumkit.xml.
  3. Open the drumkit.xml in your favorite text editor (Notepad++, anyone?) make note of the line that looks like <name>DrumKitName</name>.
  4. Create a folder under <installation dir>\Hydrogen \data \drumkits that is named exactly the same as what you found between <name> and </name> in the drumkit.xml file. If the folder that you create isn’t exactly the same as the name line, Hydrogen will crash when you try to use the drum kit.
  5. Copy all of the files that you unzipped in Step 2 into the folder you created in Step 4.
  6. Now, open Hydrogen and click on “Sound Library” and your new kit should be available under “System drumkits”.

22 thoughts on “How To Add New Drum Kits To The Hydrogen Drum Sequencer (Without Tearing Your Hair Out)

  1. Hi everybody. What’s wrong in the hydrogen installer for windows? It’s corrupted. I found the document (qtgui4.dll), it goes same. In my PC has two OS (A partition of Windows XP and a partition of Linux Xubuntu. I don’t know to install packages in Linux; it’s uncofortable. If just someone could help me to install packages from Linux, I would leave the Windows Death Blue Screen Edition. Someone could help me?

    Just I wanna leave the educative versions or “Pirated Editions” of Fruity Loops. It’s deshonest. (Sorry, know a little bit of Englsish). Si alguien me puede ayudar en esto, se lo agradecería. Si me atacharan un documento en formato *.pdf para comenzar a aprender a instalar paquetes en linus, para tener alguna idea. Gracias por su atención.

  2. How do you make a folder with and / characters? Mine won’t let me. Also, the other kits in there don’t have a folder with this naming convention and they work just fine.


  3. Hi, I love Hydrogen but I am new to it. I was wondering if I can mix the kits. Use congas from one, kick and snare from another, etc… if so.. How do I do that. I loaded all the kits and can use them all as long as I stay within the sound set. thanks to all for the help.

  4. FYI –
    I couldn’t figure out how to unzip the file, but then I just right-clicked the file, chose “Rename”, and added “.rar” to the end of the filename. That allowed me to right-click again and select “Extract” – then everything worked just as you said. Thanks!!!

  5. Great post!! but there are a few kits i installed where half the sounds arent working. i noticed in the original file theres a file i cant find a place for do. do you have any advice?

  6. Josh, comment number 5?

    Yes, in Linux the directories are separated with a forward slash, instead of a backslash and yes, they are case sensitive.

    Anyway, I didn’t know that in windows hydrogen couldn’t import h2drumkits. It just need to improve that! The source is open if someone knows how to program (not me btw). However, you don’t need to switch OS to try hydrogen in Linux if you use a Live CD or install Linux in dual boot.

    Hydrogen is awesome!

  7. Okay I’m stumped on step 4. Were is the folder that says “\Hydrogen \data \drumkits”? I looked in the drumkit.xml and couldn’t find it. What am i doing wrong and were do i make the folder? In the drumkit.xml? Help Please.

  8. On a Mac, it is even easier than that, stuffit will unzip the files without renaming. Once that is done move the MAIN FOLDER to your Username/Library/Application Support/Hydrogen/data/drumkits. When you restart Hydrogen, the kits will show up in the sound library under User Drumkits. Couldn’t be easier!

  9. Thank you very much for your post Jon. I love Hydrogen and I was just wondering exactly how to add drumkits to my Win7 version. I tried your solution and it worked like a charm. Thanks again.

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