Tips for Triggering Sub Tones with Acoustic Drums


Hey, folks! Matthew Weiss here —,,,… There’s a whole bunch of dot coms!

Anyways, what I want to show you right now is not necessarily a universal technique, it’s just something that I did while I was working on a mix that I felt was kind of a creative and new approach to an issue that I ran into.

The issue being that there is nothing in this entire record that actually has a fundamental tone that’s underneath 75Hz, and I think part of the modern sound IS having a well represented sub-range.

So, I’m going to play this arrangement, I’m going to play what I did, and I’m going to show you how I got there.

Alright, here we go.

[song plays]

So, now we have this sub-boom thing that comes in, and here was my thought process.

First of all, this was all tracked live, so the tempo is not totally consistent. It’s edited to be a little bit loose and a little bit open, so simply moving an 808 or a 909 or something to grid would be, a) arduous, and b) not totally effective.

Second of all, I wanted something that had a tonal resonance that made sense with the floor tom that was holding down that beat, so I kind of wanted to play up the sub-range of that floor tom, but unfortunately it just didn’t go deep enough.

Lastly, I could have simply moved something and tuned something and gone, you know, hit for hit where they needed to be, but that would’ve taken a lot of time, and… eh, too lazy.

So, what I did was I took the floor tom track and I made two duplicates. Let’s quickly listen to what the floor tom track sounds like by itself.

[floor tom]

So there’s a stick, a cross-stick on the floor tom, as well as some ghost notes and pickup notes. So, what I wanted to do was I wanted to get rid of the cross-stick.

I used Drum Leveler to isolate the stick and then I flipped the track once I had isolated the stick out of phase with another copy of the floor tom. That’s what these two tracks right here are. One is just the stick, flipped out of phase and then blended back in with the original and it sounds like this.

[floor tom]

So there’s not a lot of stick left in there and then what I did was I took another instance of Drum Leveler and I got rid of anything that wasn’t just the big hit.

[floor tom]

So the end result is this is that I isolated the down floor tom hit. Basically, all the big important hits. All the large moments. And then I took the instance of Lowender, which is a sub-harmonic generator and set it all the way to bass.

Meaning now every time a big hit from the floor tom comes in, it triggers the sub of Lowender, which is harmonically relevant to the floor tom itself. So basically it’s like getting some kind of an 808 drop every time the floor tom hits down beat or an important accent beat.


Now we have sub. Cool, so anyway, the lesson to take away from this is that if you know what you want, you can almost assuredly get it. And sometimes you have to go through and you have to do a whole bunch of cut and paste and things like that. Sometimes there’s an easier way and you can just sort of rationalize a system of getting it to work in your head, and lo and behold, huh, magically it does in fact work.

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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