How to Layer and Process Multiple Drums to Create an EDM Kick


Hey guys, Matthew Weiss here;; We’re going to switch gears do something a little different this time. I’m going to be talking about how to make an EDM kick drum by layering two different drums together. What I’m doing is I’m grabbing a kick drum from an XR10, and that’s going to be my mid range and top end kick drum. Then I’m grabbing a trusty old 808, and that’s going to be my focused low-end punch.

Let’s check out the XR10. It’s got a lot of texture. It’s got a lot of good mid range punch. It kind of sound like it was ripped straight out of the 80’s. We’re going to have to bring it into the 21st century here. The low end is not spectacular, but that’s okay because we’ve got our 808. There we go nice, beefy, low end, all we need.

Let’s play both together. They don’t really sound like they gel too well. Well, that’s what the rest of this tutorial is going to be about. Let’s listen one more time. Alright, a couple of things are showing up to me. First of all mainly, it just sounds like two different drums that are playing at the same time, so we’re going to have to work that out. The low- end is conflicting the mid range of the 808. It’s getting in the way, so we’re going to start ironing all of these little details out.

First of all let’s get rid of the low-end in the XR10. It doesn’t sound particularly good. It’s arguing with the 808. We don’t really need it. Easy, here it is with the 808. Now the low ends are not conflicting. We at least hear the 808 clearly. Does it sound great? No, it doesn’t. It needs a little more work, but we’re on the right track. Alright, the paperiness of the top end of this XR10, I’m not totally into that either. I’m going to use a low shelf filter and I’m going to get rid of it. That’s giving me more of that focused, lower mid and mid range punch. That’s really what I want to hear here. I’m also going to do a little bit of level matching just so that it kind of comes out at the same volume. So here’s before, and then after. There we go.

Alright, the next thing I’m going to do is shorten the tail on the XR10. There we go. What I did is I just went in; I chopped it; I put in a little manual fade right here, and now we get a much tighter punchier drum. Awesome. Great.

The next step is to figure out how to work the 808. The first thing that’s jumping out at me is that the 808 is tuned too high. I’m hearing midrange in the 808. It doesn’t sound subby and strong. It sounds like natural bass range. I am going to start tuning the 808 down until I find a spot that I like. I’m kind of digging that sort of minus 44 to minus 41, which I think is 4.1 to 4.4 semi tones dis tune. The problem is that now there’s just tons of tail in the sample, so I’ve got to shorten up the 808. Let’s see, let’s try maybe about here. I like that. That sounds pretty good. Now it sounds like we’ve got one focused kick drum.

Now, we could leave it at this and we would already have something that sounds pretty good. I’m going to do a couple other things just to sort of tighten it up. The first is I’m going to use this in faze plugin. This in phase plugin is pretty cool. What I’m going to do is do micro timing shifts, and also a few other little neat tricks. I’m going to show you how that sort of comes together in a way to make it all work. Okay, so this is a subtle difference. What I’ve done is I’ve shifted the 808 forward in time by just a little bit more than half a millisecond, and what happens is that in a lot of subtle but important ways the drum is tightening up. Here’s before; here’s after.

The one other thing that I can do with this is I can flip the polarity on an individual band, so this 700 hertz if I flip it it sounds like this. Before, after. Okay, that was really subtle. I’m going to put this on repeat so that you can really hear it change. Notice how it smacks a pretty good amount harder when I flip just the 700 hertz band. That’s important as well because these little extra inches of energy really do go a long way.

Alright, so now I’ve got one sort of cohesive gelled drum, and now I’m going to add the finishing touches to it. First I’m going to add a little bit of saturation from Decapitator here. One more time. It just adds a little bit of extra pop and punch to it. It’s not really distortion in the normal sense of distortion. It’s just sort of coloration and a little bit of, just a touch of overdrive.

Lastly I’m going to EQ the overall sample. I feel like it could use a little bit more of that sort of one to 2 kHz range where the in-your-faceness of a kick drum shows up, and it could use a little bit of that extra top end that I think is really popular in the EDM songs to make it sound a little bit more polished and shiny. That sounds like this. Before, after. It’s just some EQ.

Alright, so now I’m going to print that onto another track. Let’s also print the version that has the longer tail. Now what I’m going to do is normalize the kick drums. Why am I doing that? Well, let’s say I send this out to an EDM producer. When they select their drums, they’re going to go through a list of different drum sample that they have, and all of those drums are going to be as loud as they can possibly be without clipping. If my drum is not normalized they’re not going to hear all of the cool characteristics of my drum. All they’re going to hear is that it’s a lot quieter than all of the other drums, so for that reason I’m going to get this drum much closer to peak loudness. I’m also going to turn down the output so that it does not destroy your speakers. The final will sound like this.

Alright, guys that’s how I made this kick drum. The kick drum is going to be available for download at this website right here linked below, so put that into your URL and jump on over there and get your free EDM kick drum sample. Alright guys, take care.

Matthew Weiss

Matthew Weiss

Matthew Weiss is a Grammy nominated and Spellemann Award winning audio engineer from Philadelphia. Matthew has mixed songs for Snoop, Sonny Digital, Gorilla Zoe, Uri Caine, Dizzee Rascal, Arrested Development, 9th Wonder, !llmind & more. Get in touch:
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