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Creating Punchy Kick Drums with Neutron Elements

Kick drums are integral to the movement of a track, so when they aren’t poking through the mix hard enough, the energy drops and it becomes difficult to connect on a physical level with the groove of the song.

Using Neutron Elements, we can apply EQ and transient shaping to firm up the kick drum in this track, which currently sounds like this when I solo it.


And here’s what it sounds like in the mix.


I’m going to solo it again and call up Neutron Elements, and the first thing that I’ll do using the equalizer is bring my node here to around 60Hz, and create a boost to just bring up the subiness in here where I think the fundamental frequency of this kick drum is.


I’m going to widen my Q. On good monitors or headphones, we should hear a subtle but noticeable difference. Here’s without that boost that I created.

[kick, no EQ]

And here it is in.

[kick drum, with low end boost]


Now, the next thing I want to do is use the transient shaper in Neutron Elements, which will allow me to change the characteristics of this kick’s attack, which is the initial hit of the sound. I can also change the sustain, which in our case, means everything after the initial attack. In this case, I’ll be working on both the attack and sustain of the kick drum.

My first move will be to change the transient shaping algorithm. I’m going to go with Precise, as this will give me the fastest recovery time until the next transient.


In this middle section here, I’ll go with a sharp setting. Now sharp, unlike medium and smooth, has the fastest and tightest release time, and works best on short, staccato material, such as drums, or in our case, a kick drum.

Now, for attack and sustain. For the attack parameter, positive values will emphasize the attack, or the initial hit of that kick drum. Negative values will decrease the attack, pushing the transient into the background. I’m going to give a healthy boost here, as I want to bring up the subbiness of our kick drum, helping it poke through.

[kick, adjusting transient shaper]

For sustain, by pushing up the slider, I can affect the sustain of everything that happens after the initial attack of the kick drum, which means we can inflate a weak kick drum for the better.

[kick drum, adjusting sustain]

Now finally, I can toggle the mix slider up here, which means we can do parallel transient shaping. At 100%, we’re hearing only the audio processed by transient shaper, whereas at 50, we’re hearing an even blend of processed and unprocessed audio. So if I want the best of both worlds, I can blend them together to taste, or leave things at 100.

Let’s do before and after. First with the kick soloed. So here’s before…

[kick, before processing]

And here’s after.

[kick, after processing]

And now let’s hear it in the mix. Here’s before.

[mix, before processing]

So now, this kick is really guiding the track, and we got there by only using one instance of Neutron Elements. No need to have your screen cluttered with plugins, switching back and forth between each one as you make changes. And that’s how we create thicker kicks in Neutron Elements.





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